Atlas Losing Grip

support Wayl
author PP date 22/10/15 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

Status for Swedish technical punks Atlas Losing Grip in Denmark anno 2015 is this: they're not a very popular outfit. With just a couple handful of people attending, significant portion of them via various guest list options available tonight, BETA feels awfully empty and a misplaced venue for the band. On paper, they should be a bigger band given their 45k Facebook fan status and high profile festival appearances and supporting slots across Europe and in their home country Sweden, but with a mediocre new album earlier this year ("Currents") in combination with Denmark just not being the hotbed for punk rock upstarts in general, the sad truth is that Atlas Losing Grip just can't pull more people right now even on a Thursday night where nothing else significant is going on.

Wayl

Wayl (previously What Are You Like) have been a common appearance at punk rock shows in Copenhagen throughout the last few years. With a high-octane straight up punk rock expression containing a wealth of influences from the vast majority of Fat Wreck and Epitaph bands of the 90s, their upbeat style is easy to slap on as the warm-up act for most visiting bands in the genre. But despite being frequent guests in the live circuit, we're still waiting to hear recorded material other than a couple of tracks they're streaming on their Facebook page. The reason is simple: the band have been working on improving their songwriting, which is starting to show. It feels like every time I see these guys live, their set has become slightly better, as they try out songs and see which ones work and which ones don't. Tonight, they air a number of tracks that sound like they could be NOFX covers which we've heard many times before, but also newer material, one of which doesn't even have a name yet. Their set is tighter and faster than before and is only interrupted briefly by drummer Sonni having to tie his shoelaces and with a few humorous comments in between songs here and there. As usual, they finish the set with "Stand Your Ground" which has quietly become the Copenhagen scene anthem with most regulars knowing the gang-chanted "together we fall, wooo-hoo" chorus section by heart. It's also by far the best song they've written so that's natural. Still, we need an EP or an album soon though to familiarize ourselves with their material better.

6

Atlas Losing Grip

Much has changed in the Atlas Losing Grip camp since "Currents" was released earlier this year. The band's iconic vocalist Rodrigo Alfaro departed for a Satanic Surfers reunion, which left a gaping hole considering his Tim McIlrath-esque (Rise Against) high pitched clean vocal howl pretty much defined the band alongside the blinding technical guitar onslaught. To replace him, the band have brought in a relatively unknown Niklas Olsson, whose delivery is pretty much identical to Alfaro minus the attention to detail during the highest pitch passages. Ironically, even his performance is near-identical: the classic hold onto the mic with two hands like it was glued on with next to no movement stance was always a high source of criticism for Alfaro in a live setting, because it offered next to no visual cues to latch onto for the audience members. So for all intents and purposes, you can argue that for the non-die-hard fans of Atlas Losing Grip, the change of vocalists has gone by almost unnoticeably.

Tonight, they enter the stage to an unnecessarily dramatic theatrical intro that after several minutes of the 30 or so people standing and waiting leads into the band finally hopping on stage and opening directly into "Sinking Ship" from the new album. Their appearance is remarkably similar to a metal band's: most are dressed in patched denim vests, and the t-shirts under read names like Bathory, Judas Priest and Whitesnake. Quite interesting for a band playing punk rock, but then again, the technical approach to the guitars, however melodic it might be, has always had a metallic lean. The first couple of songs run smoothly. The next two songs show why the band have received so much critical acclaim, but then the band run into technical difficulties that plague the set throughout its duration. They end up skipping "Unknown Waters" from the setlist due to some problem with the instruments, and later on "Cast Anchor" is skipped due to some issues with the playback loop.

Together with the low turnout and the technical problems, the set quickly turns from a celebration of awesome technical punk rock into a disaster. The silences in between songs grow longer and more uncomfortable, and the dialogue in between songs to get the crowd going is awkward at best. Add in the ridiculous dramatization effects like stop motion lights during "Shallow", or the fact that Olsson starts the set by standing still in a Jesus-like pose, it's difficult to avoid getting a feeling that the band see themselves as better than this. It's a stark contrast to most down to earth punk rock bands that have played this venue in the past, anyway.

Predictably, the initial crowd enthusiasm shifts into apathy and a "let's get this over with" mentality. The first encore after "Ithaka" is confusing as part of the band leaves while others stay on stage and the lack of "one more song" cheers (aside from a couple of individuals) means they end up skipping the planned second encore altogether (which was otherwise marked on their setlist).

So to sum up: 4 songs skipped due to technical difficulties or out of own choice. Static, quite boring stage performance. Striking contrast in song quality from old material to new (with"Nemesis" being an exception). A band on stage looking like they'd rather be somewhere else and a tiny crowd that's lacking in numbers to create any sort of dynamic for the show. Conclusion? Dire.

Setlist:

  • 1. Sinking Ship
  • 2. --unknown--
  • 3. --unknown--
  • 4. Contemplation
  • 5. Shallow
  • 6. The End
  • 7. Through The Distance
  • 8. Nemesis
  • 9. Ithaka
  • 10. Bitter Blood
  • 11. Cynosure

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