Off With Their Heads

support The 20Belows + The Respirators
author PP date 22/10/11 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

A nice dinner, a couple of home-made cocktails, and a ton of punk rock on the schedule. What better way to start a Saturday night out? Especially when gravelly punkers Off With Their Heads were due to play in Copenhagen for the first time ever, and the support consists of some of our city's finest punk rock bands in the form of The Respirators and The 20Belows. A respectable crowd of around 80 people made the trip to Loppen and shelled out the ridiculously cheap price of 40 DKK to enter the venue, which meant we had a good crowd going so that wasn't going to be an issue with any of the bands tonight.

The Respirators

First up were The Respirators, who've been gigging steadily around Copenhagen pretty much every chance they get lately. Last we saw them supporting Red City Radio a couple of weeks ago, and not surprisingly they play an almost identical set both in terms of the look and the feel of the set. Tonight, the pauses in between songs have been removed, so the band hurries through their set without any crowd interaction, which should suit them well once they gain a little more experience in due time. Unfortunately the sound gods aren't on their side tonight as the vocals are far too low and almost inaudible in the mix - a trend we'll see repeat itself for OWTH later on - as long as you're not glueing yourself to the soundboard, which takes a large chunk of melody away from the band's otherwise strong song repertoire. It does improve as the set goes along, and starting from the Blink 182 cover "Dammit", which energizes everyone at the venue, The Respirators are looking like a band with a mission to party tonight. The "Neverending Days" songs, in particular, sound great, with "Homecoming" and "Old No 7" doing some damage towards the end of the set. Not bad.

7

The 20Belows

Having seen a ton of The 20Belows shows in the past, I've taken note of how they sometimes have difficulty in establishing and maintaining a lasting connection between a crowd during their sets. Not tonight. They start their show in inverse order than usual and kick off with their best song "For Better Days" that's usually reserved to the end, inviting a moderate sing-along straight away, and when the band continue with "Like A Chokeslam" and "Double Gin" all within the first five or six songs, a party atmosphere takes over the venue for the rest of their set. The crowd is loving it, which clearly rubs onto the band, who are looking like their most energetic in a long while. People are dancing, moving and singing along to their no-frills pop punk songs with a ton of enthusiasm, which the band take full advantage of. They avoid unnecessary pauses or interaction with the crowd, instead just concentrating on playing their songs in quick succession to keep the danceathon going. A new song, which I'll just refer to as "Momento" for now because of the lyrics in the chorus, is unveiled at the perfect moment to maintain the flow of the show, and its upbeat tempo and easily accessible lyrics suggest that the next release by The 20 Belows should be on par with the excellent "For Better Days" from last year. In any case, there's a great connection between the band and the crowd for the full duration of their set, which sees tons of movement and energy on both sides of the imaginary barrier, and that makes all the difference in the world. The 20Belows can go home tonight smiling after having one of their best shows on Danish soil that I've attended.

8

Off With Their Heads

What do you do when a band does everything right in a show that by all accounts should be amazing, but where sound takes the role of an executioner and mercilessly hacks out every single reason why the band is so good? You make the best of the situation, and that's exactly what the crowd did. Despite the lead vocals and guitar being so low in the mix that it's difficult to make out which song the band is playing from the distorted and unclear sound, the crowd shows just what it means to support a band by dancing and moshing in a frenzy of activity in the middle, taking off their shirts (for no apparent reason), exhibiting a sense of euphoria that's only ever released when a group of people are collectively seeing their favorite band for the first time ever. Perhaps it's this wow-effect that keeps large chunks of the crowd going, or that Off With Their Heads are giving us a lesson on how minimal movement and interaction can still result in an impressive show, but for this scribe a sense of looming disappointment starts creeping in when the sound refuses to improve after four songs... after eight songs... after ten songs, which is puzzling because Loppen tends to consistently produce fantastic sound. There's lots of crowd activity, but the absolutely awful sound drowns out all the amazing melodies. You simply can't hear them properly without the vocals, which is massively important for such a vocal-driven band as Off With Their Heads, whose songs otherwise thrive on pretty much the same chord progression song in song out. So the question is whether the crowd are just having a good time regardless? Props up for them (or the beers) if that's the case, but for Off With Their Heads, whose vocals are only coming from the front monitors by the sounds of it, this is how it must feel like getting ass raped by the sound at a show. As I'm leaving the show after "Drive" to further explore the Copenhagen nightlife, I can't help but think that The 20Belows were the best band tonight...and this coming from a huge Off With Their Heads fan.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. All I Can Do
  • 2. Die Today
  • 3. I Am You
  • 4. The Eyes Of Death
  • 5. For The Four
  • 6. Jackie Lee
  • 7. Your Child Is Dead
  • 8. Self Checkout
  • 9. My Episodes
  • 10. Keep Falling Down
  • 11. Trying To Breathe
  • 12. Closed Early
  • 13. Hard To Admit
  • 14. Fuck This, I'm Out
  • 15. Clear The Air
  • 16. 1612 Havenhurst
  • 17. Theme Song
  • 18. Drive

Photos by Rasmus Ejlersen

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