Converge

support Rise And Fall + Animosity
author PP date 18/06/07 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

It had been more than two years since the seminal chaotic hardcore act Converge last visited Loppen, a venue located in the midst of the 'city within a city' Christiania, and from what I hear, it has also been more than two years since a band has put on a show as amazing as they did last year. After having earned titles like "the most artistically complete hardcore album of all time" with "Jane Doe" and "the most relentless album of 2006" with "No Heroes", the hype this pioneering band has been receiving since their birth in 1990 is both accurate and well deserved. They are widely known for their explosive liveshow, which is considered by many to be the epitomy of a hardcore show, and for their uncanny ability to write beautiful slow ballads and lethal hardcore assaults equally well. So there's no need to question why a mass of people had gathered outside the venue already an hour before the doors, once again demonstrating that going to a 'scene' gig like this in Denmark requires some kind of a fashion statement as well - black leather, spikes, long hair and either tattoos or black-ink drawings and writings on your arms and legs (though they all seemed to talk Swedish, I must add). I sense something terribly wrong if myself, wearing just a Bad Religion t-shirt and jeans like the band does on stage, am one of the only 'normal' looking people outside the venue. Talk about trying to be non-conformist, eh?

Animosity

But anyway, lets get straight down to business. The young death metal hopefuls Animosity were first on the bill, averaging just around 20 years of age, visibly overwhelmed and excited about playing in yet another new country, when just over a year ago they were only playing local shows in Northern California. Just before the show I had a chance to interview their frontman Leo, who impressed me with his thorough and intelligent answers, effectively painting a picture into my mind that this band is onto something more than just unmelodious death metal discordance. So you can imagine my shock when the band arrived on stage and from second one Leo transformed from the calm interviewee into a monster on stage, rushing from side to side, grabbing crowd members by the neck, headbanging with them and occasionally falling into the crowd from the minimalistic stage. There was enough space for him to propel his live energy to all sides of the venue, which was especially impressive considering how he nailed his screams, growls and everything in between spot on in the midst of his bestial performance. The set was explosive, but started to repeat itself from about half way onwards - it was the same running back and forth, headbanging, jumps, stomping on the ground and growls in the long run. Much promise, though.

Rise And Fall

Rise And Fall were up next, and from what I hear, they are meant to be an incredibly hyped up act at Benelux-based webzines and have garnered quite a fan following over there. Here, in Copenhagen however, very few people seemed to have ever heard anything by or about them, and the crowd was understandably apathetic to their show. But one large contributing factor in my opinion was how incredibly and utterly monotonous their set was. It says something when I've watched them for 30 minutes and wondered what the hell happened in the last 20 minutes, because it had all slurred together in a stream of boring stageshow and unvaried screams that offered absolutely nothing to the first time listener, even if the vocalist's screams and face dripped of sheer passion as seen on the photos. But even though he took advantage of the entire stage as well, it wasn't anywhere near to the same extent as Leo from Animosity had done earlier. But on top of that, I found their music incredibly boring and simplistic to suit even my arms-wide-open hardcore punk taste - it was too metallic when it was meant to be punk, and too punk when it was meant to be metallic, and honestly, based on this show I can't figure out what all the hype is all about.

3

Converge

The Converge part of this review can only be started with a question - what on EARTH happened during that menacing hour? The only thing that I have a visual memory of is a slim blonde vocalist with tattooes all over his arms storming, no, violently charging across the venue colliding with fellow bandmates and members of the crowd relentlessly in a frenzy of modern hardcore energy and spectacular crowd control not through ridiculous hand-clap initiations, but through the sheer power and genuinity of his performance. I guess it's best described by starting from the beginning when guitarist/producer/genius Kurt Ballou alone entered the stage and burst out the infectious riffs of "Plagues", throwing his head backwards on every upwards riff as if he was in a completely another dimension or world than the crowd in the packed venue in Christiania. This magical opening moment set the crowd into a trance from which it didn't wake up until the band finished and had drawn everyone at the venue into a state of exhaustion, euphory and disbelief over the absurdity of how insanely good the show they just saw was. As the band strolled through classic masterpieces from "Jane Doe" and the newer catashrophically savage ones like "Hellbound" from "No Heroes", the borderline between the crowd and the band became increasingly blurry, as for the most time, there were more people on stage than of actual band members, hence explaining my trouble in determining what actually happened during the show. This might seem like an overdriven exaggeration, but it really isn't, and the people who attended this show will surely back me on this, because I think I saw close to about 80 stagedives during the show. The Animosity frontman really wasn't kidding when he told me that Converge have pioneered and influenced pretty much everything worth mentioning in connection to the modern hardcore scene: the merch, the sound, the art and the shows, with strong connotation on the latter.

Have you ever seen those 'classic' YouTube videos or DVD's of hardcore bands where the crowd just seems to be so 110% into it that you can just re-live the show on DVD, where you just see people being propelled to stage from every direction, ramming the band members, the amps, and putting intense pressure on the most enthusiastic (and most insane) people at the front? Well, tonight was that show - Converge hit it spot on (which I presume they do every night) and put all Danish bands I've seen to date into shame through their unforgiving, uncompromising explosion of a liveshow that surely should be placed as a synonym into Dictionary.com for the word "frantic".

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