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.

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?

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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.

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.

Modeseletor Interview, Copenhagen Feb 2013

Original article:

http://cphpost.dk/culture/insights-mode-working

 

Sebastien Szary and Gernot Bronsert got together in the early 1990s when Germany had just been shaken by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. The duo found gigs playing a fusion of acid house, techno and hip-hop to hordes of anarchic Berliners in a now-united city. Since then, they have gone on to produce music alongside the likes of the city’s ‘first lady of electronic music’ Ellen Allien and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who is a fan of their ecclectic electronic sound. The Copenhagen Post caught up with Modeselektor’s Sebastien Szary for a short interview before their massive show at Store Vega a few weeks ago:

(link to review: http://cphpost.dk/inout/concerts/berlin-calling-modeselektor-take-store-vega-spin)

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Modeselektor’s Sebastien Szary before the show at Vega. Photo: Jason Moisio

Here is what Szary had to say about Copenhagen, Musical inspirations, and working with Thom Yorke.

Amk: So, Szary is this your first time in Copenhagen ?

Szary: Well Gernot is the one who is really good at counting the years. I think we started in 2005 and we’ve been back every year since then. This is the 8th or the 10th time. We’ve played in Århus, Copenhagen and even on Bornholm in the pre-Modeselektor era (laughs)

Amk What was it like at Roskilde ?

Szary: Roskilde was amazing, it’s a really nice festival. We’ve played there twice- last year and two years ago with Moderat, the side-project we have together with Apparat. You can feel that it’s a festival with a lot of history.

Amk what was it like playing back in the early 90’s after the wall came down in Berlin ?

Szary: The whole situation after the wall came down was comparable to the wild West. The wall coming down was like a revolution- all the different influences – Communism from the East, and Capitalism- consumption and so on from the West all came together. It was a very exciting time musically as well. A lot of different styles from all the radios from different sectors came together.

Amk: What’s on your Ipod right now ? What are you inspired by ?

Szary: I have a problem with my Ipod, I hate software updates so I stopped updating my Ipod a couple of years ago. Right now i’m listening to the new My Bloody Valentine album quite a bit. Modeselektor are quite diverse, we do our slalom thing. We came from the hip hop of the 80’s then went straight to Acid House back to hip hop (Public Enemy and so on) and then into techno, Sonic Youth rock, you name it. There are lots of undiscovered sound samples and non-western oriented styles of music from the 20’s and 40’s that inspire us when we compose, well I don’t want to call it composing, it’s more like jamming. It helps if you have a knowledge of music and I have to admit that Gernot and I don’t have proper musical knowledge. I don’t play the piano for instance, so the way we use our instruments is more intuitive than anything else.

Amk: Now a question about Thom Yorke

Szary (laughing) : Ah Thom Yorke, The T Question, it comes up often

Amk: Indeed. What is it like to work with him, you guys are quite close, right ?

Szary: Yeah, we’ve been friends for about ten years. The partnership started with remixes initially then we teamed up with Radiohead and it’s going pretty well. It’s more than just about music, we are good friends with Thom. He’s a nice guy.

What’s your favourite city to perform in ?

Szary: There are quite a few actually. We like cities that aren’t in the focus that much. Glasgow can be pretty fun, also in the rain. I like the people there, it’s a bit rough and similar to the rough feel of East Germany. San Francisco and New York are fun too as is Guadalajara, Mexico.

Lastly, What’s next for Modeselektor ? What are you working on at the moment ?

Szary: Right now we’re working on the next Moderat album (teaming up with Apparat). It should be out in August. It’s time to continue our partnership with Apparat so that’s taking up almost all of our time. Aside from this we have our own private lives to keep us occupied as well.

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Modeselektor raised the rafters at Store Vega last month. Photos: Jason Moisio

If you haven’t listened to Modeselektor’s music yet, here’s a couple of tunes :