The 20Belows

support Rovers Ahead + Bollocks
author PP date 02/09/11 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

I'm not sure whether it's an official policy over at KB18, but each time I've been to a show at the rather new venue on a weekend night, they tend to wait and wait and wait after the doors open until there's just the right amount of people before allowing the support bands to get on with it. It's a double-edged sword: on the plus side it makes sure the first band (or two) play in front of a sizable audience instead of a half-empty room, but on the other hand it also pushes the headlining set so far beyond midnight that many people start feeling the urge to continue to other places in the Copenhagen nightlife. That's also what happened today for the 20Belows set, unfortunately, but more on that later. Some kind of balance needs to be figured out, however.

The Bollocks

First up were The Bollocks. Or is it just Bollocks? Unless I've misunderstood something, there are two bands called Bollocks/The Bollocks in Denmark, both playing punk, except one of them originates from the late 70s and the other one is a newer unit. To add to my confusion, my colleague AP claims to have seen this very band with a female vocalist recently, yet the vocalist tonight is a man. Oh well, I'm not even going to pretend to understand what's going anyway. If you mix Ramones with early 90s Green Day, you'd probably get a band that sounds exactly like The Bollocks. They play old school punk rock with clean vocals and simple chord-based songs, occasionally sounding a little like The Bouncing Souls in the singing department, but lack the charisma needed to progress from merely a local support band to something more. This despite stepping on stage for the first time over thirty years ago. Their initially static energy improves a bit towards the end of their set, but because all of their songs sound very much alike and they have few legitimate 'hits', the set begins to feel like it passed its due date after just thirty minutes...and the band go on to play for another thirty minutes after that, which feels like forever given their two minute standard length per song. The more I watch them sound exactly the same song after song with a static performance, the more I feel like their set is sinking neck-deep into irrelevancy.

Rovers Ahead

From the very moment that Denmark's answer for Irish folk punk steps on stage in the form of Rovers Ahead, a sense of excitement lingers within the venue, and when they immediately after kick into their violin-driven danceable songs, it's crystal clear that Rovers Ahead are just a much better live band than The Bollocks. They're fronted by a relocated Dubliner who looks and sounds like any drunken local from an Irish pub, who plays the role of the drunken pub singer to near-perfection, leading into moments of drunken brilliance that translate into crazed dance moments from the crowd's part. We're well past 11pm so people are definitely on the uphill curve when it comes to alcohol consumption, and let's be honest here, the songs are basically best described as feel good drinking music, so of course everyone is moving their bodies and dancing along. They do it to an extent that the band doesn't even need to do much on stage - which they can't anyway because it's so crowded for them - because the crowd takes care of the whole show. I can't remember the last time I would've had so much pure fun to a local band's set.


The 20Belows

The 20Belows do their best to set up in just about fifteen minutes as they, too, realize it's late and it feels like people want to move on. So without much ado they dive into their old school pop punk songs and play song after song quickly without pauses for crowd interaction in between. That's good, because it gives the set a good dose of urgency and speed, allowing the band to plow through their set. Lots of people have left at this point, but those that are still here are all dancing and singing along, which makes the difference between a boring show and a good show. The band also airs two new songs tonight, the second one of which sounds really good, so look forward to that one. "Double Gin" and "For Better Days" end the set and sound good as usual, and afterwards one has to wonder why the Danish audience at large hasn't picked up on The 20Belows yet, for they are clearly, composition-wise, one of the best bands in the country.

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