Cold Cave

support Chainsaw Eaters
author TL date 19/05/10 venue Rust, Copenhagen, DEN

As some of our readers may know, I've gone and gotten myself hooked to a woman of indie-rock disposition, and seeing as I push my awful taste on her all the time, I find it only fair to also give some of her stuff a chance every once in a while. Hence a bunch of Morrissey-sounding types inhabit my mp3 player at the moment, and hence I found myself accompanying my girl a week ago, to a show with a band called Cold Cave at Rust. Granted, I had done my homework, so I knew that Cold Cave's indietronica was hardly material for a Rockfreaks report, but in the interest of keeping an open mind and trying out new things, I decided to go along anyway. Maybe I could find out more about what indie is really all about?

Chainsaw Eaters

If the supporting locals from Chainsaw Eaters are anything to go by however, I'll say right off the bat that I'm not impressed, because the point of their show - which is two songs underway when I arrive by the way - seems like it is to be as underground, inaccessible and experimental as possible. The drums/synth duo state on their own myspace that they aim to play a sort of post-punk rooted in inspirations like Joy Division and New Order. To me they sound like what doom metal would sound like, using this constellation of instruments instead of a normal metal band. Some of their songs are painfully slow, or maybe they just feel like it, due to their seemingly purposeful inaccessibility. The synth drones and echoes like a gigantic digitalized church organ, while the drummer experiments away and singer/keyboard player Kim Andersen screams and wails, mostly completely off tune. My overall impression is that this band is basically a very deliberate fuck you to convention, insisting on NOT catering to the listener, not by sound nor by live appearance, and in this sense I suppose they are indeed just as tr00 as the tr00est black metal kvltist is to his obscene sense of aesthetics. Clearly though, I am personally lacking the ability to see how such a thing can ever become engaging to listen to. Really, what's the point of so deliberately and uncompromisingly alienating the listener? If someone can educate me, maybe some other time I'll give Chainsaw Eaters more than:

Cold Cave

Fortunately for me, I shake of the support band quite quickly, since I've been listening to Cold Cave's recent début LP "Love Comes Close", and hence know that they are a somewhat less extreme experience. MGMT and Empire Of The Sun have both crossed my mind, except Cold Cave's soundscape is noticeably darker, as my girlfriend emphasizes a short while before they come on, by insisting that basically their sound can be described as a modernisation of that of Joy Division. Having never actually gotten around to listening to Joy Division all that much, I shrug and decide to just see what happens. And what happens is that the curtains are suddenly drawn and there we have Cold Cave, three dudes and a girl, one the guys handling drums while the rest of the band are all positioned behind synthesizers. All appear dressed in black, keeping their jackets on even though the temperature is steaming in the room, and without a word of welcome, they quickly kick into their set.

Most of the songs they play are mid-tempo, yet up-beat cuts, which encourage casual dancing in the more melodic passages, yet are often cut apart by periods dominated by walls of distorted noise. Again, my abilities of comprehension come up short when it comes to appreciating the latter type of passages, checking my watch during the lengthiest one and wondering when actual music will resume, but there seem to be a fair share of those who find this particular contribution of electronic experimentation to be the actual highlight of the show. Cold Cave themselves are not giving anything away in any case, refraining from crowd interaction entirely, except for a brief greeting alá "We are Cold Cave." a few songs in. All the care they keep away from the crowd seems to go into their music though, as they do rock out consistently for the duration of the show. Consistency in fact is a word that describes the show well, as the band's intense expression is maintained via an unchanging blue light setting, and by the songs either following each other like pearls on a string, or being interrupted by the noisefests. The closest thing the band has to a frontman is unfortunately mixed much too low from the beginning, and the problem is only ever halfway remedied, and as such he has to force his delivery somewhat beyond what it sounds like on record. Something he still does better however, than the lonely female member, whose voice would impress by its similarity to Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeah's), if she wasn't singing awfully off tune whenever it became her turn to shine.

After little under an hour's worth of performance, Cold Cave exit the stage as mechanically as they came on, predictably refraining from any crowd pleasing activities such as doing an encore or saying thank you or anything. As I think back on the show, wondering if any band member even looked at the crowd more than a single time, I get a similar feeling as I did from Chainsaw Eaters, namely that things like communicating with the crowd or appearing as if one is having a good time is apparently something that would sell out the personality of this kind of show. Stranger as I am to these depths of the indie underground, I admit to confusion, and were I in a more judgmental corner, I would write the whole thing off as disturbingly pretentious, but even if I did so, I would still have to admit a fair few things in favour of Cold Cave. First of all, in comparison to Chainsaw Eater they are a quality act within the genre. That's a no-brainer. Secondly, it's hard not to admire them for creating an identity, both visual and sonic, and sticking to it without compromise. Take that and then add some tunes that are in fact rather enjoyable, especially when things are spiced up a little, like when the tempo is slowed down for once in my favourite Cold Cave songs so far, "Hello Rats". What you then have is the impression of a class act, even if you can't quite get around your unfamiliarity with the genre. One that is only degraded by the fact that the vocal work suffered so much under the mixing of this night.

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