Pianos Become The Teeth

support Milk Teeth
author PP date 01/10/15 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

Tonight at BETA: one of the most anticipated concerts in 2015 for the undersigned and many others. Four years have passed since the last time Pianos Become The Teeth graced our shores with their presence; back then it was in a far screamier and more chaotic constellation at UnderWerket than the progressive and indie-flavored modern soundscape that has garnered the band immense amounts of critical acclaim on new album "Keep You". Understandably, the crowd has grown significantly since the handful that watched them play at UW - tonight we're approaching 80, perhaps 90 attendees based on a quick glance at the crowd. Unfortunately, our photographer became ill only hours prior to the show, so my words will have to suffice to describe the mesmerizing experience that the Pianos performance was. But first, let's take a look at support band Milk Teeth.

Milk Teeth

It was only a few months ago Milk Teeth last played in Denmark in support of an equally critically acclaimed band, Title Fight. At KB18 that night we were presented a quartet with a female bassist/supporting vocalist, who together collaborated for a sound that echoed early 90s Seattle in all its grungy glory. That's very much on display tonight again, as is the band's awesome energy that sees each member go crazy across the stage. Guitarist Chris is seen on multiple occasions playing his instrument by shredding it against the amp; lead vocalist and guitarist Josh is a bundle of energy throughout displaying jumps, spins, twirls and chaotic energy, occasionally climbing the drum set to achieve higher air. Becky's dreamy and silky vocals are a fragile contrast against Josh's coarse screams, but her performance is equally filled with primal energy. Musically, we're brought towards Bleach-era Nirvana with a few Title Fight style modern experimental post-hardcore undertones, with moments of tranquillity quickly matched with ravaging displays of rage in the best grunge style. The band are the epitome of punk rebellion in their stage performance, but the songs - which primarily come from new EP "Sad Sack" tonight - still leave a few question marks.

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Pianos Become The Teeth

What a radical evolution in change Pianos Become The Teeth have undergone throughout their three albums. Debut "Old Pride" was a post-rock influenced original screamo album. Follow-up "The Lack Long After" took out most of the screams in favour of more progressive buildups and increased emotional intensity. "Keep You" moved into art rock territory altogether with distinct indie rock influences, and thus it was a bit of a question mark how the raw fury of the old songs would work alongside the quiet and somber approach of new material.

The Pianos solution? Play exclusively new material with almost entire "Keep You" on display, with only a brief foray into "I'll Be Damned" and "I'll Get By" from "The Lack Long After", which were the most "Keep You"-like tracks on that record anyway, plus two songs from the Touché Amoré split ("985" and "Hiding"). And even these were radically altered to fit the non-screamed style of "Keep You". Indeed, the tormented screaming that characterized "I'll Be Damned", for example, was replaced by the charismatic vocal vibrations that dominated Kyle Durfey's singing style on the new album. These are more pronounced live than on the record, which raises the question whether the screaming was dropped due to vocal chord concerns? After all, the screaming on the first two albums sounded like it was about to destroy every last bit of Durfey's throat on each song. It's nonetheless a difficult pill to swallow for older fans, but no doubt a bonus for all newer fans who got on board with "Keep You".

Much like last time, Durfey spends the majority of the show with his back turned to us, almost as if he was performing to his own band instead of the crowd, engaged in a weird dance routine throughout the set. Everyone on stage is moving along in synchronous movement to the rhythmic pulsation of the music - where long-lasting build ups unleash some additional energy at key moments. "Ripple Water Shine" sounds fantastic and receives a thunderous response from the crowd. Here, we can hear Durfey's voice at its best: just on the edge of breaking into a scream but not really getting there. "April" is beautiful - enough to bring back-chills for yours truly in the crowd. "I'll Get By" then follows and is completely transformed from screaming into a softer vocal style. Personally, I much prefer the original, but it is a tell-tale sign of quality songwriting when the piece sounds great even in this radically altered formation. "I'll Get By" is probably the highlight of the evening, with absolutely perfect sound making its progressive explosion of emotional intensity even more pronounced than on record.

The quieter nature of the new material demands a lot from the crowd: any talking during the songs would almost certainly ruin the experience for many. Fortunately, most people shut the fuck up during the set, probably because they are as hypnotized by what's happening on stage as I am. What we are witnessing is music as an art form, a soothing art exhibit for music nerds. As such, "Repine" and encore song "Say Nothing" complete an almost magical experience that should help many understand what Pianos was trying to achieve on the new album. My only gripe is that they could've played some older material in its original form to really contrast the stylistic change they've undertaken, but it seems like that is out of the question for the foreseeable future, at least.

Setlist:

  • 1. Hiding
  • 2. Enamor Me
  • 3. 895
  • 4. Ripple Water Shine
  • 5. April
  • 6. I'll Be Damned
  • 7. I'll Get By
  • 8. Late Lives
  • 9. Lesions
  • 10. Repine
  • --Encore--
  • 11. Say Nothing

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