Siamese Fighting Fish

support Paper Tigers + VOLA + Stream City + Stars Burn Stripes
author TL date 11/06/10 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

While everyone and their grandmothers were out enjoying the rain at either Copenhell or Start! Festival, yours truly decided to try something more economical, signing up to cover yet another Siamese Fighting Fish concert, mainly however, because three out of the four bands the 'Fish had brought along this time are all ones I am normally quite interested in. Being accompanied by my girlfried I was of course late for the show (a worrying trend), but fortunately not for more than a song or two of the first band:

Stars Burn Stripes

It was actually a band called Jaywalkers who were supposed to open tonight's proceedings, but when they were forced to cancel for reasons unknown to me, Stars Burn Stripes came to the rescue, even despite having already played at Start! Festival earlier in the day. As I enter the venue, SBS are on their second or third song, rockin' through their fast paced punk in a relatively casual manner. The guys are not engaging the crowd as vigorously as I'm used to seeing them do, but that's probably because a) they could be tired from their first show of the day, and b) there really aren't all that many people here yet. Such a lacklustre situation is also let down but a somewhat lacklustre mix, preventing SBS's melodies to really come into their own, which is a shame because those are needed if new fans are supposed to be won over. Still, under the circumstances, I don't think the band can do a better job, as the people present still seem to be mildly enjoying themselves.

Stream City

Getting the punk over with early in the night, Stream City take the stage next. By the time they do so, there are somewhat more of an audience present, and as seems to be normal for their shows, a tight group is having a ball up front, while loads of others watch the upstarts curiously from further back. Stream City seem somewhat more committed to the cause tonight, and hence leave a slightly better impression than SBS. Still though, they do have their problems. For some reason they've opted to hide frontman Dion Finne way over in the left corner of the stage, obscured from the majority of the audience's view by one of The Rock's annoying pillars. This is a hindrance, because the other guys in the band aren't quite as charismatic on stage, and as the setup confuses the eye, the soundman still doesn't seem keen on doing the band, nor our ears, any favours. Again, this is a shame, because with the amount of people present towards the end of the show, Stream City could've probably made loads of new friends, if their sound had been clearer from the start. Not that I'm sure if this even bothers the band however, as the biggest problem I can see for both them and SBS, is that they appear too casual - or maybe just too punk? - to seem to want to promote themselves at all. Maybe both bands are just determined to let their tunes do all the work, but if that's the case, they can blame the sound guy from keeping them out of the highest grades for this show.



When I first saw VOLA, coincidentally also playing with Stream City and SIFIFI, the five piece appeared intense and uncompromising, while delivering their minimalistic prog from under dim blue lights. This time, the visual impression is completely different. Uniformed in black shirts and green ties and starting the shows with two guitars of the same kind that also match the black/green colour scheme, VOLA are the opposite to the punkness of the two previous bands, deliberately aiming to leave an impression with the growing audience. Reflecting the change that's also apparent in the music, most people stand back and observe with calm interest for these guys, as they fire off their attempts at hypnotizing listeners before bashing them with occasional bursts of distorted crescendos. Visually, the appearance is memorable for the choice of clothing, but in my opinion VOLA looked better under the smokey blue lights of the first show I saw them play, than they do here, bathed in merciless white spots. It feels like the guys are a bit too restrained and self-aware when they remain relatively restrained even during their louder parts, and as always would never mind seeing people rock out for real, when the music indeed calls for it. On the upside, the sound levels fit VOLA's show much better than they did any of the two previous bands, and the between-song whispers of the crowd seems to be dominated by expressions of positive surprise. Personally though, I don't know if it's the novelty already wearing off a bit, or if it's just VOLA's quiet/loud minimalism that's gotten a bit predictable on their new songs. Either way, their show was still good, though not great


Siamese Fighting Fish

Surprisingly, Siamese Fighting Fish opt to go on as fourth tonight, rather than last, but the crowd is only confused for a moment, and soon, the floor is more occupied than it it has been yet. This is understandable, because SIFIFI's on-stage presence has evovled into one that is simply much more intense than what most Danish bands are capable of these days. Especially guitarist Rasmus and bassist Morten seem to let loose from start to finish, moving about fiercely and brandishing axes at all times. Add to the fact that the new, violin-accompanied material that SIFIFI have been airing ever since the release of their second EP, holds the promise of one of the more interesting upcoming local releases and we're already well on our way to a good show. Yours truly is especially intrigued by the intro, obviously owing considerable in inspiration to Letlive's excellent "Le Prologue" (nice to know someone is paying attention to my recommendations). All is not totally spot on though, as second guitarist Andreas loses power in his amp suddenly after a few songs. Frontman Mirza is going to complain about his own performance afterwards as well, but in truth, these things only take little away from the feeling that there's just slightly more power and potential in these guys, than in any other performance tonight. Especially the upcoming single "God Is On TV" gets people dancing, people who I might add, have had little to no chance of hearing the song before. It's not a perfect SIFIFI show, because even with the biggest crowd of the night, it still feels like The Rock is somewhat slow as an effect of the competition from the two festivals of the weekend. Still the sound is better than for any previous band, and the performance is more energetic and engaging than any performance prior or to come. That's why this - third time is it? - probably won't be the last SIFIFI show I see in 2010 yet. Call me a fanboy, but I really can't wait to hear that album of theirs! (due for release in August/September).


Paper Tigers

SIFIFI's surprising appearance as fourth of the night leaves it for Paper Tigers to close the show off while people start thinking about getting to the bar in time for happy hour. An ungrateful spot maybe, and perhaps that's to blame for the immediate thinning of the crowd. The majority of the audience assumes the cautious crescent shape again, watching Paper Tigers with the mildest of curiosity. The four-piece on stage present a poppy variety of retro rock, sounding as good if not better than any band tonight, with both singing and playing coming out spot on. However, the show is still somewhat short of fantastic, because the crowd remains static, and much like the punk bands of earlier, Paper Tigers seem like they couldn't care less about changing that, or at least making much of a memorable impression at all. They're the typical example of a band of young, ordinary dudes, who come on and play something that sounds like a tribute to their idols with loads of skills and little character. This is of course a problem, one that bands with that of the music falling in between two expressions, at least in my ears. On one hand, these guys sound a LOT like Oasis, Stereophonics etc., but on the other hand, they also have moments where they seem like want to rock in a manner similar to Wolfmother or The Parlor Mob. The problem is that they don't really succeed in rockin' anywhere near that hard, and their attempts loosen their grip on the accessibility that would have helped them close in on the success in the poppier department of the other bands mentioned. So again, it's a good show, but to be great, it needs a better audience and some more charisma.


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