Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Copenhagen Psych Fest- Stengade, April 24-26th, 2014

Following the trends of a lot of cities in Europe (Berlin, Oslo, Liverpool, etc...), Kasper from Levitation Records decided to organize our very own here in Denmark. It was pretty ambitious to try to get around 50 bands, mostly pretty unknown, underground and mostly Danish at a small venue. The web sites for this festival were a disaster with little or no information about the bands. A name and a link to a Facebook page is not information about a band, I hate to tell them. Nearly worthless… You need to have a written description of each act, a link directly to web sites where one can actually read about the band and a place where you can hear some music or a video link, as this could really help to bring people in. Anyway, they will learn for the next year…..  let’s get to the positive side of things, which was the cool gathering of mostly young people I had never seen at any of the shows I go to, the great sound (thanks to the very hardworking WILL), the bands for putting on interesting performances, cool psychedelic wallpaper projections by the Malmö Kristallen people (although they could be more active in changing them more often and giving some sort of light show, which was really lacking..).. The wallpaper made the places look cool for sure.

          The main hall was where all the more known bands played, while upstairs, a smaller scene was set up where there was also a bar, smoking room and a small place for selling merch. This could have been greatly improved with a long table on the wall giving each band some space to sell stuff. The merch was just chaos and most bands never even had anything or sold very little as it was not clear to anyone where it was, how to see it, etc. This could be improved a lot. There was plenty of space along the wall where the smoking room is and a lot of that was just filled up with junk, a sofa, extra tables, etc.

The schedules were off by 15mins to an hour so it was quite hard to figure out who was playing when and then they switched the Little Brain Attack (France) with the Wands and it was not posted or announced at all. Anyway, I arrived straight from work on the Thursday and Turquoise Sun was the first band on at 16:15. This is the guys from the old band from Jylland called Ancient Monuments. ØSC played a gig with them a year ago or so. Very nice folks and the new band are pretty eclectic. A wide range of songs from very dreamy pop like Tame Impala plays to more diverse stuff with saxophone (he never really plays any long solos, just small blips here and there), funky at times, etc.. The keyboard player is very good and they all play excellent together and three of them sing. The last track was called Oracle and I liked this one a lot. It started off with a theme on the guitar quite close to One of the Days by Pink Floyd and then a funky riff kicked in and it totally changed direction. A promising new band, pity only about 20 people saw them play.

          I had never heard Echo Electric before but they reminded me straight away of Brain Jonestown Massacre style material, with that 60’s edge and good energy and a quite clean sound. They are a five piece band and had a very passionate and excellent front singer who also played guitar. The vox organ really gave them that 60s sound. The lead guitar player had this twangy almost surf guitar like playing style at times. Solid set but I did not see it all.

Set List: Nothing without You, I fell Blue, Cruel (video), Medicine, Wanna be with You, Night Time Queen, Baby, you’re on Fire, You don’t really care about me

Next, I went upstairs to catch Thor Bøding (guitarist and vocalist in Syreregn), who was playing solo upstairs. He played a mixture of his own originals (see the video for Stoffet), young flowers, and some other obscure Danish stuff from the 60s. He is excellent. He played to maybe 15 people like Echo Electric… not many people showing up. They had a 160 3 day tickets pre-sold, so that is pretty good.

          The Roosters were a young new band that I had not heard of with some members for the hedgehogs (I think). These guys were young and just did not catch my ear. They are playing 60’s inspired stuff but it was just too straightforward, not really trying anything new or different and not very psychedelic at all. In fact, none of the bands so far would I consider psychedelic rock. I went back upstairs now to see what the hell KogeKunst was and got a great surprise! This was a duo that were really interesting, passionate and doing their own thing. They had a two piece drum kit that he played standing so he could also play guitar (sort of) and the other guy also played guitar. They also had a keyboard they would use later. This is really difficult stuff to describe but let’s just say the guys were into and giving 200% and playing raw, messy, music with a special energy. I was sucked in and enjoyed it a lot.

Little Brain Attack
         A few more people where now around by the time Little Brain Attack (France) hit the stage around 20:30... They were running about 30mins behind already. I had never heard of this band before. They played to about 40 people I guess and they had a great time and had driven all the way from Paris to play. They were a 5 piece band and reminded me a lot of the UK band, Spiritualized. It was the same sort of vibe with some nice spacey guitars at times but no real solos in this band either. They played a bit too much the same to start but then got more energetic at the end of the set, which I liked better. The band had a lot of technical problems and considered the gig to be quite horrible. Pity..

Below Dreaming switched with ET Tumason. He is a great performer and this was the 4th time for me to see him. He is from Iceland and a passionate solo performer like a sort of twisted John Lee Hooker or something... I just love the guy and he is a very cool person as well. I filmed one of his songs…

          The Wands are one of the more well-known bands on the bill today having released music outside of Denmark and played around a bit in Europe. I had seen them once when I played with White Hills in Malmo and they were very good. They just have a great authentic 60’s sound with really nice dynamics between the guitars and the singer has cool lyric just like what they would write in the 60s’s, even though I doubt these guys have even tired LSD.. Seems the young generation are not into psychedelics or even smoking weed, as I don’t think any of these bands were high. Seems they are more into speed, cocaine, MDMA, etc... much worse and dangerous stuff and of course drinking! Anyway, this is a great band and the best so far today. The room was pretty filled up by now.

Set List: Circles, Door, Totem, Colours, Hello, Spell My, She’s Electric, the Dawn, Get it Out, No one,

I went upstairs and caught a little bit of Below Dreaming, which features a female vocalist, two guitars, bass and drum machine. This was not really my thing but it was pretty out there and experimental for sure. There were only about 15 people watching them. The smoking room upstairs always seemed to be filled up there... A lot of Danes are showing up to be seen and to hang out and are not really into the bands anyway… They are often quite rude and just talking loudly, even when these bands play mellow tracks, not even caring or aware that this is annoying and disrespectful for the artist. Go outside if you just want to talk and have no interest in the music…

          One of my favourites on the Danish scene these days, Fribyttedrømme was next and the room was pretty packed and the band was in a great mood. The first two songs were really energetic and the audience was really into it as well. The band is more relaxed and feeling more comfortable with their songs which take inspiration from the Doors, Pink Floyd and Alrune Rød. The highlight of the show was the long spaced out Pink Floyd piece called Fribyttedrømmen. This was a least 15mins and towards the end the crazy guitar player, he came out into the audience and actually lay down on the floor and then his friend laid down and suddenly, nearly the entire audience was lying on the floor as the track just slowly came to an end. Wow…. What a trip. Never seen that before at a show… The band ended their 40min set with another upbeat track. Fantastic set... That was the 3rd or 4th time I had seen the band.

Set List: Kosmonaut, Himmellegemer, jeg graver huller I Mørket, Fribyttedrømmen, Fem er det magiske nummer

A Tree of Night
Sadly, by the time they had finished and I had run upstairs, A Tree of Night was just finishing. I saw like the last 30 seconds. ØSC played a gig with these guys two years ago in Roskilde and they were really good with some cool songs. I basically saw nothing... Damn… got the set list though:

Set list: Vulture, Call, Sunrise, Absent, Raga, Tree

          It was getting quite late and Papir was supposed to start at 22:15 and it was almost 23 now so I sadly had to leave as I had to be up at 6:45 to go to work. So I missed Papir but was told they were absolutely amazing and floored the place. I also did not get to see Baby Jesus, Wonderland or The Electric Set. I spoke to some of my friends and they all left after Papir who finished at midnight. It was a great night and a lot of young people I had never seen before... something is happening… the scene is growing...

Day 2

          I left work about 2:45 and got home around 3:30, had some time to change clothes and pick up my equipment for the gig later with Agusa. All the heavy stuff was put on one day, which was an interesting choice and a pity that the great Finnish bands, Mr, Peter Hayden and Dark Buddha Rising were so early. Magnus was there and managed to get one of the 1 day tickets so we had a beer in the sun with Daniel and his girlfriend from Heavy days in Doomtown festival.. 

          Jesus on Heroine started things off about 16:15. It was a beautiful sunny day outside so people were happy to just hang out in the nice weather rather than be inside. I think there was like 20 people watching this band. Their opening song reminded me a lot of Sundial (UK). IT was a big band with 12 string acoustic guitar, two guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and a percussion guy. Some of the guys switched instruments and vocals but more or less their sounds sounded really similar and in this UK psych view from the 80s..

          When Mr. Peter Hayden (Finland) started at 17:30, there was only 2 people in the room besides the staff and myself. I even told my friends they were starting but they did not come in from the nice weather for another 10-15mins… Anyway, the band sounded great and the set was more or less one long 45min trip and only material from the new double CD-vinyl release called Arch Dimension Now. This is dark moody music, mostly instrumental but some vocals by one of the guitar players. Heavy riffing, occasional solos, loud, penetrating… hypnotic… Not a whole lot of people experienced the show, perhaps 20.

          RA is a four piece band and I am not really sure how to describe them. There were still very few people here yet. It was a bit too normal or something for me. I filmed one track and you can see what you think. Upstairs was a unique act called Jin & Daun, as Swedish synth duo with Rikard from Flowers must Die and a nice Asian lady. I filmed nearly the entire last piece of their set (missing the last 1mn or less). They had a lot of gear on a small table and she seem to make the mostly deep drone stuff while Rickard experimented with some small gadgets and a kasossolator pad, etc.. I like it..

          Dark Buddha Rising (Finland) was up now and this features two of the guys from Mr. Peter Hayden (the keyboard player from MPH plays guitar) and the other guitar player. The usual singer, who lead the blood ritual has left the band as he is moving to Brazil. They had a 
keyboard noise maker guy instead. Some people like my friend Jacob came out from hiding to see these guys. A pretty small crowd still, maybe 30-40 people to see this intense show. They played 45mins and it was 3 pieces of music, I believe. Not sure from what releases. I really love the moods these guys create. Powerful music…

          I was playing on the main stage next with the Malmö based band Agusa, who has recently released their debut record on the Kommun2 label. I played with the band previously in Malmö but this was the first gig with the really cool new young drummer. It took us a while to set up but in the end the sound was great on stage and the room filled up and two girls came and danced on the stage and we played a solid concert. The crowd seem to really be into it. The music is like Progressive rock from 1975, with some Swedish folk music themes thrown in and me making space sounds in the open sections…. I had a blast…

          In between a few bands were playing upstairs and I occasionally ran up there and took a photo or shot a short video but since the schedules were all off, I don’t know who these acts are but enjoy…

          Narcosatanicos from Jylland were pretty damn cool. They play dark, slightly chaotic, heavy spaced out psych music. They are pretty powerful, with three guitar players, bass, drums and saxophone. They also have their own movie projected on the screen. The lead guitar player on the left, I don’t think he realized but he was standing in front of their projector and so he blocked off usually about 50% of the screen with the shadow of his head! Anyway, the place was packed and it was a really cool concert. The first part of the show they had really short songs, one was really a lot like 1972 Hawkwind. Later they had somewhat longer tracks but nothing like a 10min freakout… High energy dark psych stuff…

Set List: Narcodoom, Vile, Voodoo Jesus, King Crust, Sax Jam, Nausea, Salt, Haunzinationsrhusch 

          Trummor & Orgel (Drums and Organ) are a duo as the name suggests from Sweden. They had to drag this huge Hammond B3 and Leslie speaker onto the stage but in the end they sounded great and the crowd and people were quite into it. This kind of set up really limits what you can do but the organ player was fantastic, as was the intense drummer, to really mix it up a lot. Sometimes they were funky, happy, high energy… People dug it.. Westerbur and Rowe, is an US drum and organ duo, but the organ player also plays a lot of spacey keyboards.. some of it reminded me of what they can do also…

          Things were more than 1hr behind now so it was looking like the Cosmic Dead would not hit the stage before 1 in the morning. I was getting really tired but I had to see my friends in this band play.. De Underjordiske was next on the big stage but I ran upstairs and caught a couple of songs by Danske Så ddddwho I think was Danske Spor. This was a young kid playing his guitar and harmonica and singing his heart out in Danish. Not too many people but a few.. The Technicolor Poets had a completely new line up from the last time I saw them at Drone. It was now a female singer, drums, bass and guitar. Previously they had two guitar players and I did not recognize any of these people. Anyway, some of the new tracks reminded me a bit of Jefferson Airplane.  The guitar player had an intense way of playing but did not do any solos. Seems hardly any of the young bands know how to play solos or fit them into the music properly.. I am not sure..

          De Underjordiske (it translates to the underground people or something like that) were also very young and had a good crowd. I was getting really tired and don’t really recall much of what they were really like but I was not into it. They had a really good groove that people were into but again, all these guitar players and long rhythm sections without singing and no solos. It was one of the few bands with a lead singer and he was really into and very good as well. The crowd liked them..

          The last band of the day was the Cosmic Dead from Scotland! They had flown over early and slept most of the day and were pretty fresh and happy to be in Denmark. I spoke to them on and off over the last many hours when I came outside. It took a while for them to set up so it was perhaps 1:20 or so before they started. They said they would play the entire new record and then the next record which is not out but they played a very short and intense set of only the new record and were done in like 35 mins or so. Pity they played so short. I think people really wanted more. They technically had a curfew at 1 at the venue due to the neighbours but it went well overtime last night and that was a Thursday. I loved them and people were also into it… A great night.. I shot about 10mins of video from the back of the hall.. Great 2nd day…
The Cosmic Dead (always facing the back of the stage....)

          Sadly, I could not make it to the festival on the 3rd day due to having to spend sometime with my family. This day featured 17 bands including The Hedgehogs (the band the organizer plays in) VED (cool Swedish psych band), Elevatorfører, Telstar Sound Drone, Lorenzo Woodrose (solo), ET Tumason, and the Telescopes plus many more. I am sure it was another great day.. thanks again to Kasper and everyone at Stengade for making this a smooth and great event. For next year perhaps they should have fewer band and start a bit later. I don’t really see any point in having these bands come on at 16 and play for 5-10 people. No one came to see the bands before 19… I was there both days and not a single band that played between 16-19 had more than 20 people watching. This is not cool really. So start a bit later, have fewer bands and perhaps let a few of the bands play longer sets. Try to get Vibravoid and make a proper web site also.. Congrats to the organizers... KASPER..... Peace..

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