Cancer Bats

support Lord Dying + EVRA
author AP date 18/02/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

BETA’s glowing reputation as a place to see both established and up-and-coming bands in an intimate capacity, and under excellent sound and lighting conditions has been paying off of late. One after another, its shows have begun selling out on a more frequent basis, and more often than not the acts booked here return only the year after to play much bigger stages, even festivals. To be fair, Cancer Bats will likely never headline Store VEGA nor play on Roskilde Festival’s legendary Orange Stage, but it still feels like a scoop that BETA is presenting them tonight; the “SOLD OUT” tag attached to it long before suggests their popularity has not waned even though they are regular visitors to Denmark. That same tag is, for those familiar with Cancer Bats’ concerts, a virtual guarantee for a rowdy show, so on paper at least, it seems little could go wrong for the Canadian quartet this evening. Read on to find out if anything did…

Photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

EVRA

One has to admire the musicians of EVRA for their tenacity. Even when faced with an audience for whom the tiniest semblance of movement seems an insurmountable effort, the Copenhagen based outfit plays as if this were a raucous party, pounding down their southern fried hardcore tunes with a showmanship and gusto that, frankly, makes us the spectators look rather embarrassing. But fiery though EVRA’s performance may be, it nonetheless puzzles me that vocalist Frederik Emborg Pedersen — let alone any of the other four musicians — makes no attempt to alter the circumstances. He issues no calls for people to move closer, nor does he take any opportunities to dive into the audience and physically provoke a reaction; rather, EVRA seems at ease without a reciprocating energy from the floor, and as a result, the contrast between the proceedings on stage and at my vantage point could hardly be more stark.

But the lack of flailing limbs around me has the benefit of my being able to focus on the music, and its translation to the live setting. As a consequence, it dawns on me just how formidable a frontman Pedersen actually is, the strain and power of his voice making him a much mightier presence than his frame would suggest; and how deftly written the quintet’s music actually is. Whether it is the harmonised lead that introduces “The Occultist”, the fluid solos bits by stand-in guitarist Rasmus Rosendahl (formerly of The Hyle) mingling with Pedersen’s singing in “Erase / Rebuild”, or the ever-shifting rhythmic structures, the music of EVRA is characterised by immense variety even if occasionally, the memorabilia lags behind. Indeed, had this been EVRA’s own headlining gig, their knack for penning solid tunes and then discharging those live with a bulldozing momentum would undoubtedly have produced a festive concert one would not soon have forgotten. But alas, tonight the atmosphere is a little too reserved for that.

7

Lord Dying

Lord Dying unfortunately have less to boast about when it comes to writing songs. The Portland, OR born quartet’s formula is so rigid that at times during their 35-minute show, one seriously wonders what it is that justifies differentiating one song and the next into separate entities, and yet despite the virtually identical nature of the output they choose to air tonight, the three musicians (bassist Nick Kasten is not in attendance, though no reason is ever offered) inexplicably manage to draw rather more acknowledgment from the audience than did EVRA. Granted, this type of heavy, groove laden sludge devoid of finer detail tends to be all the rage in Denmark, and on some basal level Lord Dying’s music does have a number of enjoyable characteristics — at the very least, the songs provide headbanging opportunities galore. But with next to nothing happening on stage (lead guitarist Chris Evans spends most of the concert gazing at his instrument, hair hung over his face, whilst vocalist and rhythm guitarist Erik Olson remains fixed to his position on the left), and only marginally more in songs like “Poisoned Altars”, “In a Frightful State of Gnawed Dismemberment” and “Suckling at the Teat of a She-Beast” themselves, my jaw is more prone to yawning than dropping onto the floor.

4

Cancer Bats

Whatever worries one might have had based on the placid response offered by the evening’s sold out crowd so far swiftly vaporise when misters Scott Middleton, Jaye R. Schwarzer, Mike Peters and Liam Cormier erupt into action with “True Zero”, however. The Canadian hardcore crew enjoys a sizable and faithful following in Denmark, one which has no qualms about shoving itself so close to the stage people are under a constant threat of being pushed onto it by enthusiastically moshing, jumping, roaring patrons just behind. As ever, Cancer Bats entertain us with breathlessly intense, sweat-inducing performance, which sees cups of beer (and, disgustingly, actual piss, as our photographer unfortunately discovers in the worst way possible) propelled through a front-half entirely overcome by pit antics, and the lyrics of staples like “Sorceress”, “Pneumonia Hawk” and “Hail Destroyer” roared back at Cormier louder even than his own screaming. It feels like a homecoming of sorts for Cancer Bats, whose love for playing in Denmark has never been a secret.

Obviously, the lack of crowd participation seen during the first two performances was a simple matter of saving energy so that it could be expelled now, and although that collective decision had a negative influence on the warm-up acts, it pays off here. Cormier and the remaining bats are in high spirits, cracking jokes, placing themselves right in our faces with bulging maniacal eyes, and powering through a carefully weighted setlist featuring pretty much the choicest cuts from each of their four most recent albums, as well as of course the already mentioned fan favourite “Pneumonia Hawk” from their 2006 début “Birthing the Giant”, and the mother of all covers, Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”. The latter, judging by the maelstrom it incites on the floor, was always meant to be a metallic hardcore piece — suitably aggressive in sound, and with lyrics that speak directly to moshpits. Needless to say, it signifies one of the standout moments of tonight’s concert, though given the effectiveness of the relentless 19-song discharge in giving rise to a proper party, it is not easy to single out the pinnacles. By the time “Satellites” marks the end of the proceedings, everyone ahead of the room’s halfway line is soaked in sweat, out of breath, and drunk on hardcore.

Setlist:

  • 01. True Zero
  • 02. Bricks & Mortar
  • 03. Sorceress
  • 04. Pneumonia Hawk
  • 05. R.A.T.S.
  • 06. Pray for Darkness
  • 07. Arsenic in the Year of the Snake
  • 08. Hail Destroyer
  • 09. Trust No One
  • 10. All Hail
  • 11. Smiling Politely
  • 12. Scared to Death
  • 13. Buds
  • 14. Road Sick
  • 15. Beelzebub
  • 16. Lucifer’s Rocking Chair
  • 17. Drunken Physics
  • 18. Sabotage (Beastie Boys cover)
  • 19. Satellites

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