Bleached

support Rebecca Lou + Molly
author HES date 09/08/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Beta’s Dirty Days of Summer concert series seems to be a pretty well-visited event this year, with several of the shows sold out. But tonight’s mix of artists seems to stick out in an otherwise metal-dominated schedule. As I arrive, the venue is not exactly full of people, but for a Tuesday night I suppose the turnout is still decent. I have arrived a little late, but luckily the first act only just went on – sometimes you just catch a break and I am ready to be impressed.

Due to the annual Danish summer leave we were unable to find a photographer for this show

Rebecca Lou

With the description provided by Beta I wasn’t really looking too much forward to Rebecca Lou’s performance, mainly because the grandiosity of the description of her music on the event page seemed completely over the top, including pretty much every possible bromide like “uncut”, “underground”, “boring conformity” and “anti-pretentious” - and all of that actually sounded… well, pretty pretentious.

However, I am proven wrong by a well-performing Rebecca Lou. The sound is void of the event-page prophesied synths and drum machines – the latter being an extremely appreciated absence. Rebecca Lou herself is energetically using most of the stage, delivering mostly respectable vocals. However, it still seems that she is a little awkward with her audience, sometimes letting it show that she is maybe a little less confident than she lets on. And that’s actually a shame, ‘cause it seems like she has something she wants to share, and showing that vulnerability would maybe only strengthen her expression. Instead, she seems to sometimes resort to a kind of “paint by numbers” performance with all the right growls and hair whips, but without the (for lack of a better word) soul of it.

Rebecca Lou is backed up by a band that seems to know its way around the stage and the whole constellation’s level of ensemble is pretty impressive for a band this young. The sound is crisp rock/punk with a dash of riffage and detail. The biggest downfall is, however, that they are only allowed by their material to play for ”22 minutes” before they run out, as Rebecca Lou jokes before playing the last song. That is honestly too short a set for the audience to ever really warm up to you as an artist. But especially a song with as catchy a refrain as “cry like a girl/fight like a girl” or something in the vicinity of that actually sticks like a mental post-it note for the rest of the night.

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Molly

Admittedly, Molly is the reason I am here tonight. In spite of my aversion against the whole 90’s-revival (which really is an early 00’s revival) scene, I must admit that it has brought some very good things with it in bands like Basement and Wolf Alice, and I have grown very fond of Molly’s take on the whole highly melodic, borderline lethargic style of alternative/indie punk. For the same reason, the ironic distance and jokester-attitude is kind of part of the package, but for vocalist Malte Hill it seems to be threateningly close to overpowering his overall performance as he jumps until he’s out of breath and fights his microphone a couple of times. I usually don’t mind dedication to fucking things up as long as it’s because the room is spinning, but no one in the crowd really mirrors Hill’s energy, so it almost ends up coming off as halfway self-deprecating in its ironic distance to itself.

What is dragging Hill down in that regard, he makes up for in great riffs and iconic vocals (when they’re not a victim of his antics). I am always surprised when a 3-piece constellation is tight enough to fill a room with musical ambience and persona. Tonight’s superstar is Duracell-bunny/drummer Mathias Sarsgaard, who hammers away with such vigor I fear he’ll collapse somewhere after the show. Tobias Elmsdal on bass is more present in the soundscape - another feat of being only 3 in the band is that all members are recognizable in a live situation. The band also plays a couple of new songs as they’re currently recording new material, and in spite of being absolutely smitten with the sound of their 2015 release “Peach Melba”, the new direction of more psyched out, even de-constructed parts turn my expectations up another nudge in spite of the band playing a not-very-impressing set.

Bleached

Bleached is so right on trend, you’d think it’s in some way a masterful illuminati-planned affair of the music industry (it’s not - they’re so independent label it’s ridiculously right on trend). The Clavin sisters and Micayla Grace form a punk rock’ish band with temperamental nods to 50’s rock and roll in the vein of The Shangri-Las, mixed with late 90’s No Doubt and a dash of noise rock. Suddenly the room fills up with artsy bohemes with bindis, buzz cuts and ‘Lennon glasses seemingly appearing out of thin air - they weren’t here for the first two shows. Vocalist Jennifer Clavin is on it right off the bat - singing her heart out in a nasal, high pitched yet pretty melodious style, showing off great control and range. The vocals are less echoed than they were on recordings, and it especially suits the composition well when the two other members join in for “uh-uh” and “oh-oh” vocal harmonies that characterize a big part of the band’s repertoire.

It’s clear that Jennifer Clavin is the main performer of the group, followed by some introvert hair waving by Micayla Grace on bass. Jessica Clavin on guitar seems like the most introvert on the group, but is by far the most infectious to watch as wide smiles spread across her face as she notices people singing along to their songs. For the first couple of songs Jennifer Clavin plays rhythm guitar, but is a joy to watch when she puts it down and starts a performance that would make an evangelist priest jealous: Crouching, kneeling, hair flipping and exclaiming “We love you” in between songs in with that semi-scary SoCal-accent. Most of the time she is actually out of sight for everyone beyond first row, spending around 50% of the show on the floor. The first few rows, however, seem thoroughly entertained.

But there’s just one major problem for the band: all of their songs share construction and style so much so that I think the chords for at least 3 songs are roughly the same. Another recurring effect are the “oh-oh”-refrains that, apart from sounding great with three-part harmonies, are also lazily similar. Fourth member of the band Nicholas Pillot seems oddly disconnected from the rest up until the last song of the set, where Jennifer Calvin takes the drum set and releases the Pillot on her guitar, ensuing insane riffage. These moments are great - like Calvin’s general stage performance - and the audience is also entertained enough to call the band back for two encore songs. I just have this nagging feeling that this band is more about the phenomena and performance than song construction. The lack of attention to this means that the band stagnates somewhere in between ”Great!”, where I am almost sucked into the whole stimmung of it all, and thinking ”Wait, didn’t they already play that song?”

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