Disarray Son

support Stonebird
author TL date 06/03/15 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

To say that Danish rockers Disarray Son have taken their time with releases would be an understatement. It's been three years since we first caught wind of the Copenhagen-by-way-of-Køge based retro rock quartet, who have played numerous shows since then on the back of only a low profile demo release. Yet today the group would finally release their first "real" release in form of the self-titled EP that you can find on your streaming service of choice by the time you read this. To celebrate they had teamed up for a co-headliner with the kindred spirits in Stonebird - a quartet of equally 70's inspired Hjørring dudes that have also found a new base in the Danish capital, and whose second record "Who Will Slay The Beast" was also released for physical sale on the evening. Together the two bands will also play a corresponding event in Hjørring where the playing order will be reversed.

All pictures courtesy of Jesper Nysteen

While the night looked like your average, relatively low-key release party at KB18 on paper though, arriving at 21:00 - a mere minutes before Stonebird would take to the stage - the intentionally raw venue is surprisingly buzzing with a throng of guests, marking the most packed the place has likely been since Against Me played a completely rammed and steaming hot set in the summer of 2012. What figures to be parents and family of the bands are to be spotted spread out in a sea of younger patrons, ranging from your giggling high school girls to twentysomethings starting to get their buzz on. It would be cause for some speculation just what promotion magic the bands have worked to get such a strong attendance, considering that we often see international bands play to noticeably smaller crowds here, yet with Stonebird about to start, everyone's attention quickly turns towards the performances:

Stonebird

That Stonebird are committed to life as a rock & roll band is apparent as soon as they appear, at least judging from their lead guitarist and frontman, the former of whom sports almost waist-long hair while the latter looks like a cross of Claudio Sanchez, Tim Minchin and a giant. His considerable height is an asset today, as it puts his large crown of curly hair up where people can actually spot him from most of the venue, which also allows his expressive performance to help draw attention to the band's music. Soundwise, the band seems to draw from a diverse pantheon of 70's influences, which brings flashes to mind of performance scenes from Woodstock documentaries and Oliver Stone's "The Doors" movie, and of hearing dramatic singers like Meat Loaf or Joe Cocker throw their voices around.

The band's three standing members all move around within their restricted places on stage like they positively love every note they produce, and behind them, their organist calmly plays his keys to conjure up similarity to a band like Steppenwolf's classic organ/guitar interplay. Some Cream-likeness also sneaks into the guitar-playing here and there, and overall you get the impression that the band on one hand is very aware of what their hooks are, and how to make those connect with their audience, but at the same time they seem more interested in being loose and making room for jam-like guitar solo sessions, than in being all modern and machine-tight. This is also reflected in the vocals, which at one moment sound all round and powerfully seductive, yet also occasionally lean dangerously past the reach of the singer's ability.

There's more than enough songwriting ability and charisma on stage to make a fine first impression though, despite the fact that the crowd is chattering loudly over some of the band's quieter parts, and they get a good response when they encourage people to chant along to the "Who will slay the beast?" mantra. The one sore aspect of their set is that they play for what feels like a good fifteen minutes too long. At around 35 minutes, it feels like we've heard the breadth of their expression, and with the last songs after that dragged on with no end in sight, the group arguably wears out their primary qualities before stepping off. Fortunately it's not enough to completely remove the positive impression from earlier in the set, so Stonebird still figures as a recommendable ticket, though they could do well to bring just a bit more strictness in when considering their set planning.

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Disarray Son

After some time for a new beer and a breath of fresh air, the concert room at KB18 once again filled up as Disarray Son opened up proceedings with an older song: The riff-centric boogie epic "Brave New World", which was unfortunately hampered in the otherwise awesome guitar exchange in its bridge, which sounded like there was way too much effect or reverb on one of the two guitars. Similar imbalances in the mix hinder the delivery of "Cold Hearted" and "Stay", yet at least the volume has been increased enough to deafen any chatter on the crowd's behalf, and with the hypnotic opening to the exotic atmosphere of "Glades" things seem to have been fixed to an acceptable level. From here the fine arrangements and singer/guitarist Anders Friis' drawn out, Eddie Vedder-ish notes start to engage the crowd, which is sorely needed, because with Disarray Son having shorter statures up front than Stonebird, it is virtually impossible to see much of them for anyone but the first three rows, and there are still three times that amount of people in the room.

As the set moves into its second half though, there's more than enough euphony for the ears even if the eyes are struggling to catch sight of the band. The mid-tempo Queens Of The Stone Age-sounding riff of "Walls" tugs at bodies before the rousing bass signature of the bridge primes the show to kick into a higher gear and the song's awesome ending shows exactly the brilliant double nature of the band: Tempered, spacy, grungy and psych-ish on one side, yet solo-happy and capable of Led Zeppelin-ish exuberance on the other. After that the crowd gets a breather with the stoned sounding "Born In Two", before the deceptively catchy "Gold Labeled Love" is aired, and a little magic is sprinkled over the evening when the bridge gives way to the third chorus, which the audience dutifully croons away on, despite the song having been unavailable for listening anywhere prior to earlier today.

The regular set closes with "New Times", another cut from back when the band was more about the boogie riff, which works well in this role because of it's hard rocking, balls out ending. Predictably however, people want more, and the band is prepared as they invite Stonebird to join them on stage, letting their drummer, bassist and guitarist pick up their instruments while the spare members from each band pick up microphones and help lead the crowd through a cover of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Beat The Devil's Tattoo". The song is a smart pick for this kind of setup, as the vocalised hook is easily chanted by both bands and audience members alike, while its signature verse melody lends itself nicely to the voices of both frontmen, as they take turns at singing lead and harmony. This ending is perfect at a point where the audience has been licking up the noise for a solid twenty minutes or more and the mood is just bordering on the ecstatic. If only KB18's stage had been a bit taller, and if the sound had been more under control right from the beginning, things would have gotten close to perfect for a release party, where most of the songs were unknown to the crowd beforehand.

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Setlist:

  • 1. Brave New World
  • 2. Cold Hearted
  • 3. Stay
  • 4. Glade
  • 5. Mellow Day
  • 6. Walls
  • 6. Born In Two
  • 7. Gold Labeled Love
  • 8. New Times

Encore:

  • 9. Beat The Devil's Tattoo (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club cover, featuring Stonebird on stage)

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