3rd Tsunami Showcase

support Surfact + Stella Blackrose + Babylove & The Van Dangos + Deer Bear + The Psyke Project + Jet Flower + Mescalin + Baby
author AP date 25/02/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Once a year the 3rd Tsunami Agency hosts a showcase for bands on its roster in order to promote themselves and the bands they work with. As such, tonight's showcase is hardly a sneak peek into what's cooking in the underground; rather, the bands chosen to perform in it are all somewhat larger, more established Danish bands, many of whom can boast with having performed at the esteemed Roskilde Festival in the past. Obviously the magnet that pulled me here is the only real metal band on the bill, The Psyke Project, who I'll be watching for the tenth time, but considering that these are all names that appear regularly in the Danish gig calendar, I find myself quite excited to check out the rest of the bands as well.

Mescalin, Baby

The first band on the bill is not altogether unfamiliar to me; I just haven't had the chance to check them out in a live setting before or give their material a proper listen. But knowing the types of bands they've been supporting, and the way they've been described in other media, I walk upstairs to the main stage expecting a solid no-nonsense rock show. Indeed, Mescalin, Baby play rock music of the accessible, radio friendly kind, and although Pumpehuset is still early in the process of being filled out, the band is able to establish an immediate connection with the hundred or so guests currently inside. The songs are energetic and catchy, and the performance follows suite, with the result that most people are bobbing their heads in approval and clapping enthusiastically in between songs. The band's vocalist Marc Facchini-Madsen does an excellent job as the focal center of the band, spitting out impressive raw vocals and twitching on stage in camp fashion like the bastard child of Placebo's Brian Molko and The Blackout's Sean Parker. Judging from the remaining musicians, too, Mescalin, Baby are having a blast playing their music to us, and that by itself is often enough to produce a memorable show.

Jet Flower

Just as Mescalin, Baby end their set, Jet Flower begin theirs downstairs on the smaller stage. Theirs is a band of rock more closely associated with folk, indie and post-rock, and although I am at first surprised to find most of the band sitting down, it soon becomes clear that this is no problem given the somber tone of their music. Jet Flower is not a particularly visual band, but what they lack in visual aesthetics they fully compensate for with a complex audio universe which oscillates between quiet, emotive passages and louder instrumental build-ups. Again, the idea is not novel per se, but the execution is damn near perfect, and the emotional depth of the music is impossible to not be wooed by. This indie/folk concoction is usually not my thing, but somehow Jet Flower are able to change my mind and turn my preconceptions upside down. It might be the jazz feeling of the instrumental jam parts that ultimately captures my attention, but once their set ends I feel like I need to give their material a proper listen and I certainly wouldn't mind seeing them again.

The Psyke Project

Upstairs loud feedback is already resonating from the amplifiers as The Psyke Project ready themselves for negatively surprising the vast majority of people here tonight. Earlier in the evening our party has heard chatter indicating that few people here know who The Psyke Project are, let alone what kind of music they play, which makes it all the more ironic that their slot has been placed in between two of the most quiet bands on the bill. Armed with a setlist that takes us through the entirety of their half of last year's "Ebola" split with As We Fight as well as "Stockholm Bloodbath" from the previous album "Dead Storm", The Psyke Project well and truly shatter the pristine atmosphere that descended on Pumpehuset during Jet Flower's set. The mix is not on the band's side tonight, but what they lack in clarity of sound they make up for with a typically chaotic presence. Of course it would have been more ideal to place them on the smaller stage for extra mayhem, but even on the main stage, with a sizable gap between band and crowd, the band shows no relent. Granted, it is nowhere near as insane as some of the shows this band has put on in the past, but no one in their right mind could claim The Psyke Project didn't - once again - slay. If I were to criticize anything, it would be that too much emphasis was placed on "Ebola", while sure shot maddeners like "In the Mist" and "Panic" were left unaired. On the other hand, considering the nature of the line-up, the band might also have emerged more victorious by focusing on their atmospheric side with the likes of "Storms of the North", "The Voice of Commandment" and "Winter". Still, no real complaints from me - it's business as usual.

Deer Bear

On record, Deer Bear is a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalists Anne Hjort and Lars Bjørn-Hansen, but on stage they've been bolstered by a double bassist and a percussionist. Again I find myself thoroughly blown away by how expressive this indie/folk stuff can sound when done right. The vocal interplay between Hjort and Bjørn-Hansen is something close to sublime; almost magical in its ability to freeze the moment and draw all eyes onto the two. The music itself is an entrancing journey into melancholy, and although it is a far cry from my usual ballpark, I am completely at awe. I am often skeptical when the mainstream music press of Denmark chooses to praise a band, but in this case they've got it spot on: Deer Bear are a very special and very competent bunch indeed. It is to be expected that such somber music should not be accompanied by anything else than an atmosphere, and as such the fact that each of the four stands still for the entirety of the set does not seem like such a problem. The allure of Deer Bear is in the subtleties, like the genuine smiles exchanged between Hjort and Bjørn-Hansen, or the emotion resonating from each touch of an instrument. In the live setting at least, Deer Bear's music sounds pure and extremely beautiful.


Babylove & The Van Dangos

Ska legends Babylove & the Van Dangos are just stepping on stage as we arrive upstairs again for what is guaranteed to be a good time. Ska is one of those genres that is almost always fun live, regardless of the specific kind. Sadly, however, there is something utterly forgettable about the kind professed by this band: the songs follow an extremely basic formula, and because of the near-identical pace of each song, it is almost impossible to distinguish between them. On stage the band is expectedly a mellow bunch with a warm presence and solid contact with the audience, but musically, at least for me, nothing is really happening here. Too slow for skanking, and too simplistic for immersion, Babylove & the Van Dangos play a brand of ska-meets-reggae that would be better suited as background music in a Cuban lounge than played live in front of an attentive audience.

Stella Blackrose

Downstairs again, Stella Blackrose intend to start a riot with the most energetic performance of the night. We are dealing with mid 90s hard rock / post-grunge now, with an air of Courtney Love and The Cranberries to the songs, and it is being played extremely competently and with high octane. Once again, the music itself is not something to yell hurray about in terms of novelty, but seldom does one witness a Danish band performing so passionately. I guess touring in the US does that to a band. The crowd seems to agree: the downstairs room is absolutely rammed during this explosive set, and both band and audience are clearly having a blast rocking out. On the other hand, however, given the generic nature of the band's music, I find few cues in the music to make Stella Blackrose's performance memorable beyond remembering it as a pretty good rock show. More than 35 minutes of this would definitely have dampened my impression.


Surfact are by far the most prominent name on the bill tonight, having been in continuous rotation on DR P3 with their hit single "Absolutely Shameless". As such it comes as no surprise that the band has been allocated a much longer slot in which to make their presence known - a welcome bonus for fans, but, as it turns out, an almost torturous affair for those of us not overtly familiar with the band's music. You see, although Surfact are pushed as a metal band, there really is very little to connect them with the genre. I am reminded, above all, of Dead by April's sugar metal, and to me this can bever be a good sign.

Turns out that there is justification for my fears here, as even though Surfact have a couple of decent tracks to offer, the overall impression that I get of the band borders on pathetic. Surfact never became famous, but they continue to behave on stage as though they were big rock stars. Their own fans are lapping it up, but I find myself standing in disbelief. The songs are not particularly well written: there are attempts at massive hooks, but these are too tame and predictable to generate the desired effect; the performance, though professional, continues to remind me of Dead by April and Sonic Syndicate, who employ every cheap trick they can to stir up the crowd, without ever really coming across as convincing. Couple that with the fact that the band soldiers on for what feels like an hour, and you've got yourself a very disappointed, very frustrated reviewer.

It does not seem fair, however, to go ahead and bash Surfact's performance tonight to shits and bits, because the vast majority of the audience seems to be more or less enamored by it. But to reward it serious credibility would nonetheless feel like a crime against music. I thus conclude my assessment of them by asserting that Surfact are very much a pop band dressed in heavy riffs and electronic samples, and if that's your thing, then their show tonight probably sent you home smiling. If not, it probably sent you to the closest bar.


Photos courtesy of Rasmus Ejlersen

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