The Discussion

support In The Fumes
author AP date 10/09/17 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Going on tour without a proper release out is risky business, as Laura Pleasants and her two cohorts, Derek Lynch and Richard Adams, come to find out. Even the fame forged by Pleasants as the front-figure of Kylesa has failed to produce enough intrigue to draw much of an audience to see her new project, The Discussion, live at BETA on this brisk evening; with just seven tickets allegedly sold, the brunt of the ‘crowd’ is thus made up from the venue’s own volunteer base. As a longtime fan of Kylesa myself, this show was unmissable for me though, and remembering the many times I have witnessed bands pull off stunning performances in front of poor turnouts, I choose to feel optimistic as the opening act prepares to kick off the proceedings.

All photos courtesy of Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

In The Fumes

In the Fumes is a new-ish quartet from Copenhagen, whom I must admit to having never heard of. For reasons left unexplained, the band is without their bassist, Nickie Jensen, tonight and his parts are played from a backing track. But even without knowing how the band usually fares in the live setting, it is safe to say that that guitarist/vocalist Peter Lehmann is willing and able to fill more than one pair of shoes with his energy, tenacity and stature. The fact that he goes the extra mile in terms of showmanship is especially beneficial during the first half of the set, with the music drawing inspiration from far and wide but rarely sounding like anything in particular. This changes as the minutes tick by; the songs take on an alternative rock style that leans heavily on the work of Foo Fighters and to some extent also U2 — which makes the band’s Slipknot-esque uniform of olive flight suits and orange patches with a large, black X on them all the more perplexing. The last three tracks in particular pack some serious grooves and take drummer Sune Bjerg’s rhythms to another level, albeit those actually having been the one point of consistency throughout the concert. The show is quite an uneven affair thus, but also one with sufficient potential seeping through the cracks to make me interested in keeping an eye on this capital city bunch.

5

The Discussion

The headliners make exactly the sort of unceremonious entrance that one would expect, given Pleasants’ desire to start afresh and build a reputation from the ground up. As usual, the amount of effect pedals lined up in front of her initially seems a little excessive, but once we’ve been treated to the likes of “Before We’re Gone” and “Cuts Like a Knife”, one is reminded that Pleasants actually uses if not all, then at least most of them. Rather than using the pedals as a means for enhancing the sound of her guitar, she uses the guitar as a means to convey the sound of her pedals. Indeed, she was never shy about incorporating psychedelic and space-rock influences into Kylesa’s sludge metal base and with The Discussion, those are at the forefront of a markedly more shoegazing style to which Pleasants’ character is perfectly suited. On stage, she is as solemn as ever, singing in a characteristically bleak voice and her eyes either closed or staring into emptiness for the duration of the concert. But while on the surface, her demeanour could easily be mistaken for indifference, it never feels that way; one senses that Pleasants, Lynch and Adams are quite absorbed by their music, especially when they let off one of many spaced-out instrumental passages.

What inspires the closed eyes and downward glances thus, is the deeply sedative nature of The Discussion’s music, heightened even more by the strong presence of Lynch’s bass in the mix. The soothing rumble of his iterative patterns is one of the primary actors in imbuing the songs with a hypnotic quality from which there is no escape. It rarely happens that I don’t make at least one dash toward the bar to resupply during a concert but honestly, that does not happen here — and the reason is not the show lasting just the 45 minutes that constitute the entirety of The Discussion’s current repertoire. The trio makes a fine first impression with what they’ve got to work with, even if swathes of the atmosphere they conjure simply end up dissipating in the scarcely populated room. I do hope that Pleasants & co. are not so disappointed with this first encounter as to avoid returning to Denmark in the future; certainly, I am interested in finding out what the effect of a denser and more interactive crowd would be on the lasting value of their performance.

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