Reptile Youth

support 4 Guys From The Future
author HES date 28/10/14 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s Saturday evening and I am late once again. I made an appointment to meet our photographer just at show start, but as I enter Vega’s larger venue, I realize there is no show start. At first I think I must be an hour early in some weird Kafkaesque winter/summer time warp, but as I meet up with the photographer we both assure each other that we are right on time and the watch is right. That it is Vega we are at tonight only makes this an even stranger event, as they are notoriously straightforward about show start. But the room is close to empty, with only a few devoted fans waiting in the front or sitting in small circles, drinking beer. I ask one of our most trusted crew guys what is going on and he assures me the support band will be on shortly. I ask for more details, but the room is re-telling his story of late attendance because it’s Saturday and people usually go out to eat before – which has led to the room being three quarters-empty. It also only re-affirms my premonitions that the show start of 20:00 should probably have been moved up to 21:00 as it usually is on weekends. For us who showed up on time it is mildly annoying, but the drunken laggards I will encounter later probably enjoyed being late – yet right on time. When the support band of the night, 4 Guys From The Future hits the stage we’re around 15 minutes late – a difference that will not be made up through-out the night. I know it is a small difference, but with plans post-show and just a general distaste for wasting me and my photographer’s time I can’t help staring into the face of my grumpier self tonight.

Photos by: Philip B. Hansen

4 Guys From The Future

Either this is a clever joke or it is the wrong name that these guys have chosen for a band of their transgressions: 4 Guys From The Future is clearly four guys from the past and their music is a bass heavy ode to the 80’s in all their shapes and forms. Within a few moments my Suede-sense is tingling and one simply has to ask oneself if the 80’s are making a comeback this fall? If so, I am not completely sure that is a bad thing. With a The Cure-esque rolling, warm guitar and a drummer in turtleneck, the four guys start out with songs from their latest album “Adagio” – and the songs are just that: Adagio (Italian for “at ease” or in this case “slow”). Now there’s nothing wrong with slow. It’s one of my favourite tempi, but combined with a lacklustre – dare I say non-existent - stage show it really turns out borderline boring or un-engaging at best.

4 Guys From The Future

On a more positive note, vocalist Bjarke Porsmose has an absolutely brilliant, piercing voice that does manage to carry some of the crowd from the bar to the stage. Porsmose seems quite introverted and it would probably seem un-authentic to him to be extremely engaging as we’ll later see Reptile Youth’s Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen be, and there are other ways than that to engage with an audience. As I pre-listened to “Adagio”, the music felt way more engaging, quirky and catchy – so I don’t for one second doubt that it is there. This is only confirmed to me, as we move into the latter part of the set where the guys play a couple of new songs to be released in the spring: There is a clear shift in energy and I even see Porsmose break out of his rigidity and sway a bit more with the music. The newer songs also manage to spark a bit of funk with rhythms above the lazy shoe-gazing dream pop tempo we’ve experienced so far. It’s sad to experience that these guys actually have talent, but that it is completely lost on tonight’s crowd that is slowly filling in along the walls, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more to this band than what tonight might let you believe.

Reptile Youth

Since TL and I fell head over heels in love with these guys back at the Northside Festival of this summer it has been hard not to bust a move every time “Speeddance” hits a stereo in the night. But I am having a hard time assessing my expectations tonight as there are some differences in festival gigs and doing your own headlining gig with something like 15 to 30 minutes more space for fuck-ups or lost attention of the audience. Within the 20 minutes the band manages to be late, the tension in the crowd goes from electric to “come on just get on stage” - myself spending most of my time in the latter category at this point. When the band finally enters they serve a groin-kick in the shape of the opening “Rivers That Run For a Sea That Is Gone” with a timed strobe-light ensemble. It’s Reptile Youth as I have come to know them best: Hard and preachy. This only continues into the bass-driven “Structures” that has some of the same dystopian edge and explosive chorus. But as the set continues it is clear that these songs are the only kind of songs we’ll get tonight.

Reptile Youth

Although I like the pony, it is starting to feel a bit inclined to only do this one trick. Although I love the more club-oriented “Black Swan Born White”, “Dead End”, “Two Hearts” and “Diseased By Desire” I am sorely missing the band’s more quirky songs like “It’s Easy To Lose Yourself” about finding your true love; a girl that squirts, the self-explanatory “Be My Yoko Ono” with lines like “for you, I’ll break up my band” or the folksy “A Flash In The Forest”. Instead it’s preaching and dark dystopian bass through-out the entire set, – although we get a brief visit from the brilliantly composed “Where You End I Begin” in a slow, off-beat tempo. In the middle of all of the aforementioned club-bangers, one song is mysteriously always missing from the set-list whenever Reptile Youth is playing: The band’s 2012 break-through hit and later turned commercial backing music track “Shooting Up Sunshine”. Now I can guess as much as I want as to why Reptile Youth in many ways decline to be the same band that they are on record; it could be because the other songs are more Saturday-night appropriate or because the band primarily want to play the songs that are moving in the same direction as they might be. None the less their choice of songs are starting to leave them with very little emotional room for maneuvering and it means that once you’ve seen the band more than twice the whole shebang starts to seem increasingly impersonal and rehearsed.

Reptile Youth

As to the audience’s experience tonight it is probably ten times better than mine. Vocalist and entertainer extraordinaire Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen once again manages to stage dive something like 3 or 4 times, two of these times making it into an upright position, still singing as a Messiah walking on human hands. Most of the time the floor seems to be meeting its threshold caused by jumping, screaming young Copenhageners beer in hand. But for me, it just isn’t there anymore. Damsgaard Kristiansen honestly confesses that this is the first time in a while he has enjoyed a show and not thought of napping on a sofa. Meanwhile I am thinking how this is the first time I honestly haven’t truly enjoyed a show with Damsgaard Kristiansen. The space between the set and the encore is cut super short, probably because of the earlier delay, but as the band comes back to play the audience favourite “Speeddance” I retract with the other old people, leaning up against the wall, arms crossed watching the crowd go crazy to yet another stage jump. Reptile Youth has now managed to break-through to the mainstream – tonight selling more tickets than they ever have before, they’ve still got a bit of quirk in them and they’re still delivering live shows above most standards – however, now they will probably need to also worry their heads with delivering something that is worth coming back for, because right now they’re just pressing “repeat” instead of bringing something new to the table and it is a way flatter feeling to see an amazing live band repeat themselves than it is to see a semi-decent band do it. It’s simply because Reptile Youth dared to raise my expectations that they are now reaping the contrary to benefits.

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