Denmark’s ten must-see concerts in December

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here

Christmas dominates the proceedings in December, but the month still features several promising shows, particularly within the drum ‘n’ bass and heavy metal genres

If stadium-sized gigs are your thing, December is definitely not the month for you. More intimate, less commercial gigs are a bit of a given in a month in which shopping and julefrokoster eat up our time,  and amongst these, several hold great potential as events to be remembered.

The Local has gone digging amongst the scraps and found the best of the lot.

Children of Bodom
Amager Bio, December 1st at 8pm
What was originally supposed to be a double bill with Lamb of God at Vega has been downsized after the American band cancelled its tour in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Finland’s Children of Bodom are soldiering on and will bring their seemingly gruesome and even barbaric thunderous approach to metal to rip whatever rafters bind Amager Bio’s roof to its hinges. ‘I Worship Chaos’ is the title of their ninth studio album, which was released earlier this year, adding to a catalogue of chaos-causing music over the years.

 

Doe Parro
Ideal Bar, December 2nd at 8pm
If you hear Doe Parro’s name mentioned in the same breath as Bon Iver or The Tallest Man on Earth, you may quite rightly wonder why. LA-based Parro is not a rock musician by any stretch of the imagination but her producers have had great success with the previously mentioned artists – a testament to her eclecticism, which spans the genres of R&B, soul and even the odd touch of dubstep.

 

Kadavar
Rust, December 2nd at 8pm
Kadavar are a watered-down take on Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, featuring similar trippy, heavily laden rock influences. Armed with a new album,  ‘Berlin’, expect burly, broad-shouldered show from these German heavyweights.

 

Clutch
Store Vega, December 4th at 7pm
Clutch epitomise all that is good and great about the American hard-rock tradition. Touring in support of their 2015 album ‘Psychic Warfare’, the Maryland-based band has been a mainstay for well over 20 years. With the band seasoned veterans in what Consequence of Sound dubbed “belligerent boogie rock”, Clutch will be the soundtrack for a Friday night party not to be missed.

 

Flavour, Dj Graded & Luc Rocc
Rust, December 5th at 11pm
Rust’s new nightclub fixture ‘Flavour’ kicks off its December programme with a visit from two of hip-hop’s veritable local representatives. Dj Grdaded, a four-time Danish DMC champion and two-time Nordic champ, is a permanent establishment within Copenhagen’s hip-hop scene. Luc Rocc is slightly less well-known but holds an impressive portfolio as one of the city’s foremost disc jockeys.

 

Area 55
Store Vega, December 5th at 11:30 pm
Area 55 is a trance collective that has hosted some of the city’s most renowned underground trance events, many of which have taken place in venues such as KPH Volume and Halvandet. The setting this time round is a well-known music venue, cementing the rise of electronic music into the commercial narrative locally.

 

Thundercat
Store Vega, December 7th at 8pm
Although the name sounds like it belongs to a heavy metal band, Thundercat is one of the standouts in the R&B world. Los-Angeles based Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner has worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Suicidal Tendencies and his co-producer and partner in crime, Flying Lotus. This is a man whose rhythmic qualities are peerless, so prepare for some great entertainment.

OHOI! Presents Christmas Bass
Stengade, December 12th at 10pm
Bass legends, The OHOI! drum ‘n’ bass collective are back with a mammoth lineup for their annual Christmas ball. Particularly impressive on a list of names that showcases some of the best underground talent in the city is Rasmus Kjærbo, an experienced producer who lives and breathes music. Prepare for a bass invasion.

 

Dubioza Kolektiv
Loppen, December 18th at 9pm
What better way to prepare for the festive season than with a dose of Bosnian Balkan Beat? High-octane, adrenaline-pumping action is on the menu for the evening, held at Christiania’s Loppen, a befitting location for the occasion.

 

Ulige Numre, Extra Concert
Store Vega, December 28th at 8pm
The voice of the new generation of Danish rock, Ulige Numre (Odd Numbers) will be performing at a sold-out show at Vega at the start of December. For those unable to catch a piece of the action, the band will be back at Vega on the cusp on the new year to perform a show that should be rich in memories and merry-making.

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Jan Gehl, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Cities That Move 5 km/h and not 60 km/h

Mankind is evolving and so too is the manner in which we interact with our surroundings. From traditional hunter-gatherer groupings to industrial age production, to modern day office environments, the progress of our civilisation ultimately changes our lifestyles. This progress represents societies that are more efficient, where the obstacles of physical distances are minimised and less and less movement is demanded from the individual. This, however, creates new challenges for mankind. As our need to move diminishes, so does our health, with obesity, diabetes and heart diseases on the rise. So now that fewer jobs are demanding it, how do we get moving again?

Speaker_09_Jan_article

Meet the legendary architect behind Copenhagen’s Strøget – no less than the world’s longest pedestrian street. Jan Gehl’s studies in the early 60’s played a significant role when Strøget was rid of vehicles, in a ground-breaking move that formed the core of many green urban initiatives that have catalysed Copenhagen’s development ever since. Since then, large cities around the world, such as New York, Moscow and Sao Paolo, to name a few, have been inspired by Copenhagen, and have called on Jan Gehl to help them pedestrianise.

Dubbed “the last living worldwide renowned guru in urbanism”, Jan Gehl has raked in innumerable accolades for his approach to urban design, winning everything from The International Union of Architects prize for exemplary contributions to Town Planning and Territorial Development to a Prince Eugen Medal for outstanding artistic achievement in architecture.

An honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and a fellow of the Design Futures Council, Gehl is of the conviction that “we need cities that move at 5 km/h and not at 60 km/h.” His approach to making cities liveable stems from a collaboration with his wife, psychologist Ingrid Mundt, together with whom he began to study how people interact with their environments. Gehl believes that we need to approach architecture in a human manner – it should and always be about people first and foremost. “Studying people rather than bricks” helps us build cities for people, encourage healthier lifestyles and invite people to use the urban space for physical activities.

Above & Beyond, Store Vega Jan 2015

Original article published for Mediazink, available here :

Store Vega, 22nd January 2015

5 0ut of 6 stars

Trance trio Above & Beyond brightened an otherwise dull and insipid Thursday evening with a furore of a party that attested to why they are as highly ranked an outfit as they are.

Playing to a capacity – packed Store Vega, Jono Grant, and Tony McGuinness put the loyal crowd into hysteria with wave upon wave of cathartic anthems, punctuated by epic, beat – free pauses that have come to demarcate the trance genre. And whilst the third member of the project, Paavo Siljamäki was absent from the festivities, if he was missed on stage, it certainly did not show.

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Above & Beyond: Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki . Photo – Dj Mag California

Above & Beyond’s latest album, We Are Are All We Need provided some of the evening’s fodder and went down well with the jubilant crowd. This is a work that has been well marketed, in keeping with the strong marketing backing that the trio are flanked by in all that they do. And whilst there are certainly several gems on the album, such as the eponymous ‘We Are All We Need” track featuring the talented Zoe Johnston, I personally find myself more inclined to some of their older material such as Tri – state, from as far back as 2006.

The electronic music world finds itself increasingly dominated by the EDM sub-genre and the nefarious showbiz fascination that it pulls in its wake and much to many’s dismay, it is clear that no genre, trance included, can escape its clutches- as much of the material on the latest album demonstrates. This notwithstanding, the music of Above & Beyond has consistently stood out for its sentimentality and thoughtfulness; two elements that are are in abundance on We Are Are All We Need, as they were at Thursday’s show.

Amping the experience, a beautifully -strung light show and massive background imagery turned Store Vega into an amphitheater of dreams; propelled by the pulse of life and the tick of the soul. A monumental confetti burst towards the end summed up the feeling of ethereal nonchalance that the concert created; a sheer elation of being in a very, very comfortable place and a wistful longing for more of the same. . Above & Beyond exited as they’d come; playing softer material that left space for contemplation and unobscured imagination.

Denmark’s Ten Must – See Concerts for January

Original artilcle written for The Local, available here

Denmark's ten must-see concerts in January

Cold Specks. Photo: Steve Gullick/Arts & Crafts

Denmark’s ten must-see concerts in January

Published: 29 Dec 2014 19:51 GMT+01:00

With the Yuletide frenzy now having come and gone and two gruelling months (at least!) of winter to go before we can well and truly venture out of our wintry Hobbit holes, music and entertainment prospects are somewhat bleak for the month ahead. We have, however, managed to scour different venues for the best of what January has to offer. Whilst larger venues like Forum go into snooze mode, there are plenty of intimate concerts to look forward to at the likes of Vega and Rust – shows that ought to capture the cosy connotations of that ever-so-widely used term hygge. Metal fans, electronic aficionados, rock boys and girls and the hip-hoppers amongst you are in for a good start to your musical year. Click here for our ten must-see concerts in January Happy holidays from The Local’s entertainment team and see you in 2015!

Denmark’s First University TEDx Inspires & Educates

Original Article for The Local Denmark, available here

 

Skærmbillede 2014-12-19 kl. 21.56.24
Technology, Entertainment, Design; TED – an acronym that many readers are no doubt familiar with. Founded in 1984, the TED brand operates on the maxim “ideas worth sharing” and usually consists of elaborate, well -prepared talks that are often filmed and unleashed to an eager online public. A powerful communication platform, it has branched off into numerous worldwide franchises operating under the TEDx banner, with the “X” denoting events that fit under the TED umbrella but are independently organized.
Paradigm shifts
TEDx KEA, Scandinavia’s first ever university TEDx franchise, brought a wave of inspiration and knowledge to the city on Thursday at the Nørrebro campus of the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA).
Featuring a main event at the adjacent Empire cinema and a live stream inside the campus (and to a worldwide audience) TEDx KEA ‘Emerge’ aimed to unite businesses and local leaders in the fight for a better tomorrow, provoked and emboldened by the up and coming talent of our generation.
Within this frame, speakers ranging from industry heavyweights such as author and serial entrepreneur Lars Tvede to Syrian refugee and women’s rights activist Noura Bittar Søborg gave TED talks that touched on a broad spectrum of topics. The latter received a standing ovation at the end of a compelling talk that told the epic tale of a struggle against violence in a war-torn nation, proposing a change to the status quo with verve and indefatigable emotion.
Others took a less serious, albeit compelling form – as was the case with sports marketing guru Stefan Pflug, who decried the short attention spans of internet-based information consumption. From fashion psychology (Manou Messman) to the need for a better understanding of social entrepreneurship (Lars Hulgård), each of the ten talks given during the course of the day told a personal story that merged with a call to arms within various subject material, asking questions of the manner in which we as a society operate.
More to come
For franchise holder Doug Costello and a massive crew involved in everything from speaker scouting to live stream recording and rhetorical training, the day represented the culmination of many months of hard work and a learning experience for future events of the same kind under the TEDx KEA banner.
The ten talks from the day will be edited and put online at some point, in itself a demanding task, but one that prolongs its longevity as a source of knowledge and inspiration for years to come.

Enough is Enough : The need for social entrepreneurship

Oriinal article written for TEDxKEA; available here : http://tedxkea.com/enough-enough-2/

 

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photo cred : Dovile Montvydaite

Last week, we discussed the emergence of social entrepreneurship as a catalyst of new ideas. It is true that entrepreneurship in itself, social, or otherwise, drives the inception and cultivation of furthering societies’ evolution.

History is full of champions whose stories have rocked the very foundations of what we believed was possible. The lightning bolt of inspiration is sought after by every would – be game changer, but the method remains the same. A stroke of insight, with the vision to see something that is not there and ask why not? The drive and fire to bring ideas to being, rounds off this age-old method.

This is true of the ideas of Florence Nightingale as it is of those of Steve Jobs. In today’s world, entrepreneurial guile is behind some of the world’s biggest brands and their consumers, stakeholders and so on. In fact, the hard work of a few ambitious people is at the throbbing heart of a world driven by a focus that cultivates entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs generate ideas or latch onto good ideas, string together the interests of different stakeholders and create brand new business concepts that provide goods and services to fulfill needs. Societies benefit from employment and the creation of jobs, industry, infrastructure, connectedness, and the state gains from similar developments. Entrepreneurs themselves fulfill their goals whilst making a profit from the activities spawned of their ideas.

This is all well and good so far and from the outset, a functional model where everyone is happy seems apparent.

Scratch beneath the surface, however, and you will find that this economic model is riddled with flaws. Many of the profits generated by businesses are not re-invested in society, but rather hoarded by entrepreneurs who correctly enough, have worked long and hard to propel their ideas to prominence.

There are other issues at stake that overwhelm the case for the maintenance of this model and the social inequalities it reproduces.

One of the most driven speakers at our event this year, Lars Hulgård is of the opinion that “we need a society with more solidarity from one business to another; a pluralistic society that allows for alternative forms of organisational structure, not merely those that are anchored in making a profit.”

Idealistic as this may seem, we are, right now, on the verge of tipping the scale. This generation has had enough. How many more economic crises’ will it take, how many more screaming examples from history do we need to see that something has to change for our sheer survival ?

As a pioneer within the increasingly acknowledged field of social entrepreneurship, Lars is of the belief that this area of our society holds potential as a vehicle for global change. However, it needs to be more than just a buzzword: “We need to re-think social entrepreneurship outside of the current discourse that is very much based on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and standard economic practice. What happened to the critique of these models and how did social entrepreneurship all of a sudden become a part of this?”

It is this very critique and indeed the definition of the field that Hulgård has spent many years of his life cultivating.

The challenge will always be incentivising this, merging the rewards with idealisms; forging this new paradigm.

All it will take is one valiant entrepreneur to make that splash, to revolutionise an industry and show us there is a way. Social entrepreneurship is emerging in the global narrative of social change but it needs support and solidarity from free-thinkers and society at large. Rest assured, the floodgates will open, but for this we need the actions of social entrepreneurs to be backed by a more aware consumer base and for the free-thinking individuals reading this to rise to the challenge of shaping a more socially- driven paradigm for life on this planet.

Agnes Obel, Vesterbro. Sept 2013

(Interview also out in The Copenhagen Post)

Danish pianist and singer Agnes Obel stormed to European popularity a good 3 or so years ago with her debut album, Philharmonics, a coup de maître that garnered gold in The Netherlands and went platinum in Belgium, France and Denmark. With such accentuated success to live up to, Obel is back in 2013 with her follow-up album, Aventine; a more nuanced and experimental work that draws on the dark emotional influences of Roy Orbison, amongst other inspirations. I caught up with her in Vesterbro, ahead of the start of her European tour and this is what she had to say about her music and the new album.

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Amk: “Welcome back to Copenhagen Agnes.” “For those who don’t know what you’re music is all about, what’s the philosophy behind your music ?” “What goes into making a song for you ?”

Obel: “Hmm, Well I can explain something about the process or the method.” “When I started working on my own music I didn’t have the chance to record in a big music studio so I had to record everything myself.” “I figured out that recording and writing songs at the same time works really well for me.” “A different moods shines through the song and the performance of it also changes.” “ I feel that this way of working also allows me to get closer to the nerve of the song.”

Amk: “You grew up surrounded by musical instruments as a child. How did the piano become your instrument of choice ? ”

Obel: “That’s a good question.” “I don’t know how I was stupid enough not to learn to play all the other instruments” (laughs). “We had a vibraphone and a double bass; why didn’t I learn to play them as well as I play the piano ?” “There was something about the beauty and resonance of the piano that spoke to my imagination I guess.” “My brother was into drums and guitars and I was always very much into the piano.”

Amk: “Your second album, Aventine, is just about to drop.” “You must be pretty excited about it.” “What is different on this album compared to Philharmonics ?”

Obel : “Aventine was made over a more concentrated period (one and a half years). Philharmonics was also recorded over a concentrated period though some of the songs are from earlier in my life. With Aventine, i’m trying to look into new states of mind that i’ve experienced and been curious about.” “The Cello is a major driving force in some of the songs on the album and i’ve experimented with it, using it in new ways and so on.”

Amk: “You’ve got a few shows coming up to promote the album.” “Is there any show that stands out amongst the bunch for you ?”

Obel : “I’m looking forward to Paradiso in Amsterdam- I’ve played there before on one of the first bigger shows I did on the previous album.” “It’s a beautiful venue.” “I’m also really looking forward to playing at Le Trianon in Paris.”

Amk: “What about inspirations ?” “Who or what do you get inspired by ?”

Obel: “I’m inspired by lots of things all the time and these things change, all the time.” “For the new album, i’m particularly inspired by Roy Orbison and the re-invention his songs have gained through David Lynch movies where one sees this dark under-current developing in them.” “I love the conversation between film and music.”

Amk: “You moved to Berlin a few years ago.” “What is it like living there ?”

Obel: “OhI really like Berlin !” “I grew up in Gentofte and moved to Frederiksberg when I was 12.” “When I went to Berlin for the first time I It felt like a big city and a village all at the same time.” “I didn’t really understand the place to begin with so I was very curious and I came home and told everyone that I’d be moving there.” “It was a leap into the darkness to see if it would work out, which it did and i’m very happy living there now.”

Amk: “What is it like to play in Denmark and Scandinavia in general ?”

Obel: “I’ve heard from other artists that people are a little bit more reserved in Northern Europe, which comes across at concerts, where the audience may be quieter.” “So this means less hecklers (laughs) but maybe it also means that people may not be as open about how they felt.” “I’m not so sure this is especially true of Denmark and I haven’t played that much in the North of Europe as most of my performances have been further south but it’s what i’ve heard.” “As far as Denmark goes, it is always really difficult to play for your family and friends.” “One becomes really self conscious, which is a challenge for me especially in Copenhagen where I know some of the venues really well.”

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Charles Bradley and his extraordinaire’s, Lille Vega June 2013

Original article:

http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/souls-screaming-eagle-proves-hes-still-extraordinaire

Charles Bradley ****** (6 stars out of 6); June 17 at Lille Vega
Bradley’s impeccable presence rocked Lille Vega for the second year running (Photo: Flickr / sebascrub)

When Charles Bradley first came to Denmark in 2011, he was an unfamiliar fixture in the world music circuit. When he came to Lille Vega last year, he was still not that well known worldwide, yet alone in Denmark. But after last night’s show at the same venue, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that we have not seen the last of Charles Bradley, and that his best may still be yet to come.

Starting out as ‘Black Velvet,’ Bradley performed James Brown impersonations before eventually landing a contract with Daptone records a few years ago at the tender age of 62.  His songs chart his struggle and call for change in society, a veritable critique of the fallacy of the American dream and of the greed and corruption with which society is awash today. Bradley’s show last night was by far the best concert I have ever been to, a bewilderingly beautiful performance that saw him shed tears of elation and sorrow alike.

The backup band of the evening, the seven-piece Extraordinaires, stepped on stage before the main man himself, announcing their presence with an intense instrumental performance. Bradley took to the stage shortly afterwards, clad in clothes he’d made himself and resembling James Brown down to a T.

‘The World (Is Going up in Flames)’, off his debut album No Time for Dreaming set the pace, slowly working up a crowd that lived up to the cliché of being an audience with a frightful tendency to be stagnant and noncommittal. This stereotype was thankfully broken down as things proceeded though, the result being epic hands-in-the air moments and  genuine interaction from the crowd. With Charles giving it his all, performing with a dedication that saw him sweat profusely on the warm stage, an early instrumental interlude early saw him waltz off stage to take a breather before coming back on to woo the crowd with tracks such as ‘No Time For Dreaming’ and the sentimental ‘Loving You.’

With the venue in the palm of his hands, Bradley and co rounded off with an epic performance of the newer track ‘Confusion’, showcasing a series of dance moves that few people in their twenties, let alone a veteran, can muster.  A befitting encore saw him change outfits and come back on stage dressed in a fiery red suit to perform the powerful ‘Victim of love’ and ‘Why is it so Hard?’, both off his 2013 album,Victim of Love, which documents the travails and struggles of a man who has taken a long and weary walk to freedom.

Imagine Dragons, Store Vega April 2013

These Vegas dragons rock Vega with a vengeance

Imagine Dragons **** (4 stars out of 6); April 18 at Store Vega
Imagine Dragons’ energy, albeit inconsistent, wowed a sold-out Store Vega (Photo: Flickr / DerekSchwartzPhotography)

Las Vegas-based band Imagine Dragons were in top form at a sold-out Store Vega last night. The indie group made a sleek entry to the sounds of crickets and pouring rain: tentative signs of an impending storm. Even before the show began, the young partisan crowd were enthusiastic and merry, cheering and stamping passionately in anticipation. Having been part of an insipid audience at British songbird’s Ellie Goulding’s show at the same venue last week, it was quite pleasant to be in more lively company this time around.

Armed with their usual guitar ensemble and a robust bass drum positioned at the front of the stage, Imagine Dragons hit the floor running, playing confidently in a near-perfect acoustic environment that had the elusive, inclusive feel of a concert in a large stadium. But several songs in, one could clearly feel the show slowing, the initial momentum waning – as it was inevitably destined to. A solid performance of marquee track ‘Hear me’ picked things up again, however, as the boys showed why they have been compared to revered bands such as The Killers and Arcade Fire.

The tipping point of the evening was always expected to be the moment that the band dropped their signature track ‘Radioactive’. And drop it they did, with an atomic vengeance – it was a cunningly constructed extended live version that thundered with bass echoes more common at dubstep raves than at a rock gig. An epic acoustic section towards the end of this tune, followed by a blizzard-esque finale that hissed, thumped and roared in a sea of smoke and strobe sequences, gave the fans everything that they’d come to the concert for in only a few minutes of brilliance.

‘Thirty lives’ followed, quietening the din somewhat and showcasing the band’s more sentimental, acoustic-based aspect, and inspiring the cliché flood of lighters and mobile phones in the air typical of particularly tender concert moments. By this point, the band had exhausted most of their popular tracks and simply proceeded to round things off by riding out the crest of the wave they’d created at the start. They rolled towards land with the verve and wit of a rock band with promise and talent up their sleeves. And their audience, young as they were, loved every second of it, so kudos are due to them too.