The 20Belows

support The National Shut Up
author PP date 13/08/09 venue Lades Kælder, Copenhagen, DEN

The 20Belows seem to be everywhere for the time being. When they're not supporting international bands like Ignite and Rise Against (in October) or performing at Roskilde Festival, they're playing smaller shows like the 60 person capacity venue Templet at Lyngby and the 100 person capacity Lades Kælder. And rightly so. I'm slowly but surely beginning to realize that I hugely underrated their debut full length "Headaches And Moodswings" in my review, because the more times I hear these songs live, the better they sound. But more on that later. Surprisingly enough, tonight's show at Lades was packed almost to the venue limits, which could have something to do with either The 20Belows starting to snowball here in Denmark, or that the show was free. Whichever the case, it's great to see such great numbers supporting an underground punk show in Copenhagen. Thumbs up to the crowd (except you faggots who decided to smoke at the front of the crowd in a non-smoking venue, thus ruining some of the experience for the rest of us. I hope you get cancer and die).

The National Shut Up

But before The 20Belows got on stage, we had the small matter of dealing with Denmark's finest response for New Found Glory, namely The National Shut Up. Now, last time I saw these guys, they impressed the hell out of me with their rich pop punk sound that exists right in between the rawer melodies of NFG and the poppier, perfectly produced stuff of a band like Hit The Lights. With commendable energy live, they proved to be the best band on the bill at The Rock when Stars Burn Stripes were playing. Tonight, the band displayed similar energy with the other guitarist engaging in several jumps in the tiny space known as the 'stage' in Lades (rather, it's just a corner), but none of this mattered because their entire sound was drowned underneath the bass guitar. Many of the melodic hooks and catchy riffs simply weren't audible from underneath the bass (no matter how good it is), and as such much of the experience felt a little flat. But as usual, the band played a cover of the Coca Cola tune - twice actually since they screwed up the first time - and a bunch of otherwise infectious pop punk tracks. "Clara", "Ann" and "Bodybuilder Boyfriend" were some of the highlights, but I have to say that the boring ballad "Dreadful Letter" just doesn't feel like it belongs to their otherwise fun-oriented showmanship. It feels just a little bit too serious. So while the performance was entirely decent, the sound problems bring the grade down quite a bit.

The 20Belows

The beginning of The 20Belows' set was met with some delay caused by a few problems with getting one of the guitars/amps working properly, something which would turn out to be a recurring theme later in the band's show. There wasn't much time for sound checking, though, so the band's vocalist Ulrich Basler just told the crowd to say if some of the instruments were too loud or too quiet. And so the first four or five songs essentially function as the sound check for the band, because like everyone who's seen the band before knows, they launch straight into the songs and don't pause even for a breather until the fourth or fifth song. Unfortunately this meant that you couldn't hear any vocals whatsoever as they were tuned waaaaaaay too low. Those of us who know the songs could recognize them from the guitar melodies, but for everyone else who were here just checking out how Denmark's finest punk band sounds like, they couldn't have gotten much out of those songs. The sound improved after a couple of us at the front told Ulrich to turn up the vocals, but a few songs later, someone else told them to turn up the lead guitar (which was somewhat low as well), causing the same problem to reoccur, and so for the rest of the show, you could barely hear the vocal melodies. Damn you Lades for the poor sound quality.

But if we discount for the sound problems, The 20Belows once again proved why they're one of the most enjoyable Danish bands to watch live. They are tight, they are intense (especially at such an intimate venue), and they're not afraid to show their passion for their music. Especially guitarist Kasper Keen is testament to this, considering how he could pretty much be the lead vocalist for the band. There wasn't a single line in the set which he wouldn't be singing out loud (but not in the mic), creating a nice connection with especially the front left side of the stage. The band went through a nice combination of the best songs from both their old and their upcoming record, playing "This Boy's Giving Up", "Once And For All", "My Very Best", "Saying Sorry", "Oh Baby", "The Inevitable Knockdown", "For Better Days" and "What A Nightmare" among others. Again I have to say that the newer songs in particular shine here, and why the band hasn't found a label to release them just yet doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. Maybe it's because Soundvenue rated them badly at Roskilde Festival, which the band made fun of in several occasions during the show tonight. But lets be honest here, when have Soundvenue ever been credible in reviewing anything resembling music? *Silence*....I didn't think so either. Anyway, the show was finished in a crazy finale where the drummer started smashing his drums with one of the large cymbals before everything fell down into one big pile, whilst Ulrich got pissed off about his guitar not working, threw it away and just sang the last two songs without it. A nice finish to an energetic show, which would've been so much better if you could've actually heard the vocals.

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