Birds In Row

support Chaviré + Heavy Heart + Nordsind
author AP date 17/07/19 venue Ungdomshuset, Copenhagen, DEN

It is embarrassing to admit, but tonight marks the first time that I have set foot at Ungdomshuset (the Youth House of Copenhagen). With the closure of KB18 in 2018, it has become necessary for bookers to look elsewhere for hosting underground hardcore punk and metal shows and this place is an ideal candidate with its DIY atmosphere and graffiti-strewn interior. And while the venue has been in the game for a long time already, this is probably the first time that I actually immediately recognised the headlining act on the calendar listings, having agonisingly missed the band due to a clash at Roadburn Festival back in April. The opportunity to remedy my mistake thus had to be seised, and with a Høker Bajer (a cult lager produced by the Hancock brewery) in hand, I am ready to take in the first of four acts set to appear on stage this evening.

Nordsind

The proceedings kick off with an energetic set by the local boys in Nordsind, whose brand of post-metal sticks out from the rest of the artists on the bill, but nonetheless garners plenty of interest from the 40-or-so people who have turned up. Armed with a selection of songs mostly taken from their 2017 début “Efterår”, the four musicians really let themselves loose, their bass and guitars swung and brandished in wild movements as melodies and riffs are layered up, all the while the drummer lays down some deliciously jazzy grooves beneath it all. Although many of the quartet’s songs follow a very similar pattern of introspection, escalation and release, it is hard not to become immersed in the beautiful soundscapes they construct — especially as the musicians themselves seem to be completely lost in them. And toward the end of the set, when the music grows more varied by incorporating elements of black metal, my initial skepticism about Nordsind being a bit too homogenous in their approach seems like a distant memory. “Dvale”, which sees the band joined by Justin Hate vocalist Kim Rock for a cameo delivers the standout moment, even if the instrumental post-black metal piece just before it and the cinematic, Envy-esque track right after it do their best to upset the brand new single from the honour. It is a moody and compelling performance then, one which deserves to be endured by a larger audience than is the case here.

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Heavy Heart

Next up is Heavy Heart — a four-piece from the northwestern French city of Nantes, whose name alone had me convinced they would be playing screamo by the book. But to my astonishment, the band’s genre of choice is actually punk rock with a dusting of emo, their material reminding me of Brand New on their 2001 album “Your Favorite Weapon” and even more so The Menzingers. Their guitar melodies have that distinct heartland rock vibe and the vocals are often harmonised by the bassist and two guitarists to create anthems like “Magic Life” and “Holding On” (both taken from the group’s 2018 album “Love Against Capture”) that are impossible to get out of your head once you’ve heard them. Throw in a performance in which none of the four musicians ever stop moving and it becomes extremely difficult to find aspects to criticise in the Frenchmen’s 40-minute set; instead, one feels like following the lead of the bassist in dancing the night away carefree about the ails of modern society, which seems to be the preferred theme in this band’s lyricism. Indeed, with so many catchy tunes to their name and with such energetic showmanship to boot, Heavy Heart present themselves as a discovery I wouldn’t mind seeing again in a headlining capacity at the earliest opportunity.

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Chaviré

When it comes to doing screamo by the book, look no further than Chaviré — who also hail from Nantes. The tight jeans and minimalistic attire of the four musicians is already a dead giveaway, but once the vocalist has cast himself into a twitchy dance and begun spitting out French lyricism attacking the establishment in a voice best described as half yell, half spoken word, no one inside the venue can be in any doubt as to which genre the band’s allegiance belongs to. Just like the two previous artists, Chaviré have a lot of energy to dispense, which makes the concert engaging to watch, but it is nonetheless the short, heartfelt speeches given by the vocalist in between the songs that steal the spotlight, and his struggling to find the right English words for his emotions and opinions affords his rhetoric all the more honesty. Chaviré is indeed a band with their heart in the right place, which is why it pains me to admit that I’m having a difficult time connecting with their music. There is a serious need for more diversity both in terms of the quartet’s songwriting and especially in the vocal department, and it hurts the ability of their music to make a lasting impression. Alas, nothing about Chaviré performance tonight motivates me to dig deeper into this French band’s repertoire, and I suspect the problem could simply be that this extremely raw style of screamo is not really my cup of tea.

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Birds In Row

Birds in Row use only a line of soft, pale yellow bulbs to provide the lighting for their concert, in a bid to bolster their insistence that they are mere vessels for conveying music and ideas and not a band as such. It is no secret that the Laval-born outfit is quite political and this kind of abstraction is a part of that identity, but even if you find it to be a little bit pretentious, it should be easy to put your skepticism aside when you realise how excellent Birds in Row are live. From the first note of the opening track “We Count So We Don’t Have to Listen” (off the band’s latest album, 2018’s “We Already Lost the World”) and until the last note of the closing piece “I Don’t Dance”, the three musicians exert themselves with so much vigour you fear they might be verging on a heatstroke in the stuffy confines of this venue. During the more explosive tracks like “Love Is Political” and “O’Dear”, the bassist and guitarist descend into a total frenzy, flying off the monitors and wielding their instruments like javelins in battle. Indeed, like the music itself, the trio’s performance is a constant process of surging and receding, which gives the concert the intriguing air of unpredictability that is so vital to a successful basement punk gig.

But there is also a sense of community about these proceedings that becomes pronounced when the band airs the title track to their 2012 début album “You, Me & the Violence” and the audience stumble over one another to pump their fists and scream the words back at the band, kicking up the first moshpit of the evening in the process. And from then on, there is no stopping the energy reciprocating between the band and their fans, which is fuelled by the plethora of impassioned sociopolitical messages shared by the former in between the songs. Regardless of your own ideas you have to respect the trio of standing strong behind their opinions and letting them drive their showmanship up to the almost vitriolic level we witness here. After the final salvo of “We vs. Us”, “Fossils” and the already mentioned “I Don’t Dance”, the crowd including yours truly is thus left breathless by a band whose grit and gusto on stage is certain to keep earning them infamy as one of the most riveting post-hardcore outfits available right now — one you should catch live at the earliest opportunity!

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Setlist:

  • 01. We Count So We Don’t Have to Listen
  • 02. Love Is Political
  • 03. Triste Sire
  • 04. You, Me & the Violence
  • 05. Remember Us Better Than We Are
  • 06. O’Dear
  • 07. Morning
  • 08. 15-38
  • 09. Fossils
  • 10. We vs. Us
  • 11. I Don’t Dance

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