Crooks

support Northern Blues + Boston Manor
author HES date 23/02/16 venue Huset, Copenhagen, DEN

At the door a few young guys are already waiting in line - it’s 19:57 and the doors will open shortly. They excitedly and nervously speak about tonight’s gig. As we are allowed into the venue, a small line has assembled by the ticket stand. I go to the bar and a couple of men around my dad’s age are here as well, recommending a craft beer from the bar. The mixed line-up has obviously drawn an equally mixed crowd, spanning from pop-punk to post-hardcore. What is the common denominator, is that all the bands tonight are fairly young and fairly new to the scene.

All pictures by Philip B. Hansen

Northern Blues

First up are Northern Blues, a fairly new constellation, that impressed with their debut EP in the spring of 2015. In the merch stand they sell it on tape cassettes, and their clothing choice is straight out of an era I was hardly a teen in. Same goes for the band’s musical stylings that simulate pretty old-school hardcore with very aggressive screams on top of a slightly off-genre, ambient backdrop. The only thing that penetrates the heavy fog of a post-punk’ish soundscape are melodic, circling guitar lines poking through, like a foghorn in misty waters.

Northern Blues

The vocals are mixed very low - whether it’s intentional or by accident, it doesn’t work in the band’s favour, as the compositions and attention seem to be directed towards them. William Van Der Bourgh’s screams come off as a bit untrained and strained, lacking force and most of the screams stay superficially in the upper part of his throat, rather than transforming into the expected, low, guttural growl. Where the band succeeds is more in their use of contrasts like screaming/spoken words, ambient backdrops/clear guitars, high energy/listless and so on. But in order for these contrasts to work, the band will probably have to invest a bit of time and energy in gathering a lot of very diverse ends, to make the intentional contrast seem more… well, intentional.

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Boston Manor

Boston Manor have, in spite of their collective youth, already released quite a bit of music and the band announced their debut album just before tour start, to be released this summer. The band started as more of a pop-punk constellation, but has later set sail towards the more treacherous waters that are “emo”.

Boston Manor

The shift, however, doesn’t seem to affect the show, even though the band plays both the catchy “Peach State” from the first era as well as the more screamy “Trapped Nerve”, as Boston Manor have kept a uniquely melancholic tone throughout all of their career. There is no doubt that this band like their shift in tempi, and drummer Jordan Pugh delivers shifts so delightfully hectic that vocalist Henry Cox at one point is almost out of breath. Apart from that small detail, Cox does an endearingly nervous, but great job of engaging his audience and in particular one die hard fan that simply knows all the lyrics by heart.

Boston Manor

Out of the band’s hands are unfortunately tonight’s sound that is embarrassingly bad. The mic feeds every other song and the backing vocals, that are pivotal for the band’s new sound, are barely audible. It seems that switching from the ambient sounds of Northern Blues to the more clear-ringing sound of Boston Manor proved too troublesome for the sound desk. Cox unintentionally also reveals that the monitors have been poorly mixed, as he sings a song from the middle of the floor and delivers an exponentially more convincing vocal performance. If the band can be served with these conditions and still deliver as convincingly as they manage to do, though, I am forced to believe that there are great things in store for them.

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CROOKS

It is now a little to eleven and the crowd is agitated with excitement. There is no doubt that Crooks have gathered a very faithful fanbase in Denmark. However, the owls are apparently not what they seem tonight. The main driver for the band is, apart from their god-sent song-construction, also the distinct vocalist Josh Rogers and as he enters the stage something that could just be written off as nerves seem to colour his face, as he wide-eyed meets his audience in eye-level on the 20cm tall stage. The break between the first and second song is a bit long, Rogers does mention that he is sick, but we don’t expect anything to go completely south.

Rogers tries to keep the set active and the band plays convincingly tight. But after the third song, it seems he loses contact with everyone, hiding his face and missing lines from coughing. And after a quick talk between the booker and the band, the show is surprisingly cut short, as we're explained that Rogers is in fact too sick to carry on. So what do you do as a scribe in this situation? I don’t feel it would be fair to the band to pass judgement on an otherwise well-started gig. I will, however, close this article off by concluding, that the most tragic thing about the abrupt end to the night was that the band started out well and the audience was taking it all in with wild appreciation, making it even more sad that the experience was cut short.

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Crooks UK

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