Elder

support Mos Generator + The Order Of Israfel
author AP date 05/08/15 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Pumpehuset’s Byhave — an urban garden, they call it — is running in its third year now, and looks like a permanent fixture in the Copenhagen summer for years to come. The concept is as simple as it is successful: give people an oasis amidst the busy city life, in which to sit back, relax, enjoy a drink or two and watch up-and-coming bands from across the musical spectrum ply their trade on the cozy, wooden outside stage at no cost whatsoever to the audience. Today, from as early as 2pm, the space has been engulfed by stoner rock and doom playing at pleasant volume from the speakers in anticipation of a quintet of representatives of those genres — two locals on the outside stage, and three internationals inside — and even though these are traditionally underground genres, the amount of people outside when I arrive at 6:30pm is staggering. Not all will have bought the ticket required to see the international trio inside, but it is still some kind of testimony to the resounding success of the concept that the attendance is this high. A bow of respect for that, Pumpehuset. Now, without further ado, let us find out how those international bands fared, shall we?

All photos courtesy of Matt Marsh

The Order Of Israfel

Due to a 30-minute delay in funnelling people into the venue, Swedish stoner doom act The Order of Israfel is already standing on stage as our party walks in, and within few minutes the slow and droning opening riff belonging to the opening track begins to resonate from the PA. There is a brooding look about these fellows, yet even during the track’s most trudging bits they are keen to brandish their instruments, swing their shaggy hairdos and in general adopt a demeanour not typical to such slow burning music. Honestly though, with the exception of a stomping mid-section this first taste of ‘Israfel’s music ticks all the boxes for generic stoner doom — ‘Sabbath worship, but lacking the killer edge needed to form a lasting impression. It is a little too one-dimensional in its riffage. Fortunately, “The Earth Will Deliver What the Heaven Desires” employs a much more melodic approach immediately in its wake, which serves to rouse the audience especially when the four lads unleash a heavily textured, jammy instrumental passage halfway. This is what I’ve always loved about the stoner genre: the subliminal interplay between the musicians, and the evocative sensation this produces. It is also telling that ‘Israfel look most animated during these parts, being able to unfold the full extent of their instrumental talent and become lost in their own music.

Still, none of what the quartet has on offer tonight is that arousing, let alone ground breaking. Fifth and final song “Wisdom” emerges as the consummate highlight with its plethora of riffs and solos, and not surprisingly it is here that most heads in the audience are banging in approval. This is solid stuff, but rests largely on the rocking performance abilities of ‘Israfel’s members rather than on the lasting value of their music. I have certainly not been inspired myself to add their records to my listening cycle.

6

Mos Generator

The arrangement of tonight’s bill could hardly have been constructed better. In between two bands renowned for meandering (particularly so the headliner) sits Mos Generator, all beards n’ riffs, driving rhythms and an attitude which roars ”Fuck yeah!”. There is so much energy in songs like “Lonely One Kenobi” and “On the Eve”, and with the focus now shifted toward torrents of riffs in lieu of atmosphere generation, it comes as no surprise, the stench of weed soon lingering in the air. The two axe wielding gentlemen upfront, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed and bassist/vocalist Sean Booth have so much gusto, strumming and picking their instruments with string-wrenching urgency, whilst drummer Scotty VanDweller, the only clean-cut member, bashes away at his kit with such stamina a large stone has had to be placed in front of his bass drum to keep it in place.

In between every song, Reed surges toward the audience bellows ”Come on!” whilst swigging Jameson whiskey straight out of the bottle, in a bid to lure his audience into an equivalent frenzy — with variable success. But even though the crowd isn’t always with them, this hardly matters in light of the passion, swagger and fuck yeah-ism that characterise Mos Generator’s performance. Both the trio’s songs and their demeanour on stage are of the sort to make it nigh impossible to avoid muscle pain in the neck the day after, so when “Electric Mountain Majesty” and “This is the Gift of Nature” conclude the proceedings, the thunderous applause and voicing of approval is very much in order. An excellent, and much needed dose of energy following the more sullen style of The Order of Israfel, and one which without a doubt manages to rustle the midweek lethargy of this concert’s attendees.

Elder

Given the positive feedback just heaped into Mos Generator’s court, the alert reader might be perplexed as to my choice of grading. But said grade is, I feel, an accurate reflection in contrast to the majesty of Elder’s concert, by which time the downstairs area of the venue is nearing sold out capacity. They are the first band to make use of projected visuals, and also the first to cast the reverb-laden, Kadavar-esque vocals of Nick DiSalvio into a secondary role so as to afford maximum space for riff worship and otherworldly jams that last for what sometimes feels forever (the opening track, if I am not mistaken, clocks in at over 20 minutes!). It almost seems like when Elder deploy vocals, it is because they feel they should — not because they’re entirely necessary for the essence of their music to be brought across. Indeed, for much of the lengthy six-song set, Elder jam away like men possessed, boosted by a deafeningly loud, yet clear-as-crystal mix and a crowd now so drunk, high or simply tripping on the music that virtually every one of the 200-or-so heads is bobbing — and not out of duty.

Granted, Elder are not as overtly energetic in their antics as were the three musicians of Mos Generator, but there is a mad groove to them all the same. Never still, the two standing members rock and zone out in the same way that makes Acid King and Sleep such enthralling bands to watch live; when the musicians themselves look immersed in the music as opposed to pleasing the crowd with trite and recycled expressions, it is so much easier for one’s self to become lost in the sound. Elder are very much caught in the jam, and if you are against largely instrumental songs that each last longer than some punk band’s entire performance, then this show would be an excruciating affair for you. But looking around, the venue is rammed with the opposite type of concert goers, those who understand and appreciate the beauty in Elder’s long-winding compositions. Through their confident manner, infinite chest of ideas and flawless delivery, the Boston, MA based trio etches itself into the hearts and minds of Copenhagen’s stoner aficionados with one of the most entrancing performances this year.

Setlist:

  • 01. Dead Roots Stirring
  • 02. Compendium
  • 03. Spires Burn
  • 04. Spirit at Aphelion
  • 05. Gemini
  • 06. Lore

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