support Caves + Respirators
author PP date 24/04/12 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Only a couple of days before the Rockfreaks.net trip commences to Groezrock, the best punk rock and hardcore festival in the world, a few local fans had pulled off some strings to provide the perfect warm-up for anyone into shouty and melodic punk rock of the sort you're expected to see at the Belgian festival this weekend: Spraynard, a much hyped (at least overseas) emotional pop punk band, who had brought along with them Britain's Caves to the country.


To open tonight's festivities, Copenhagen's local answer to Midwestern punk Respirators had been invited along for the ride, who just seem to be getting better and more confident on stage each time I see them. This was to be their last show in 2012 due to their guitarist Tobias spending six months out of the country, but they definitely made it count: not only was the sound quality excellent all-around, but their new songs from their upcoming full length sound really, really good. Basically, take the EP's sometimes simplistic and unashamed Off With Their Heads worship, and add in a ton of variety and strong melodies that catch onto the listener on the first listen - even in a live environment. They playful guitar melodies still play a big part in the songs as on the EP, but they are executed tighter and in a more convincing manner, while the new songs bring in choruses that, at least on first listen, sound even more catchy than the best material on their debut EP. Because of that, the small crowd of around 30 people nod their heads in unison and tap their feet as the band play their songs quickly and without any unnecessary breaks of bullshit in between - just the way I like my no-frills punk rock shows. Based on what we saw tonight, their upcoming debut album looks like to be the one that could make an impact on the European scene where punk rock is far more popular than here at home.


Next up were Caves, a female-fronted trio from Bristol, UK, whose punk rock expression is built almost solely around high energy woo-hoo choruses, that seem to make multiple appearances in pretty much every song. I don't remember who it was, but some famous old school punk rock musician once said you can never go wrong with a catchy woo-hoo part in a song, and that's something Caves prove song after song tonight. They complement their energetic expression with some crazy movement on stage, where especially the tiny female vocalist/guitarist is throwing herself around enough to be drenched in sweat after just a couple of songs. They also appear tight and well-rehearsed, with visible passion during their fast-paced, grower type melodies that feature more depth than your standard no-frills pop punk band. But you just can't look and appear as shy as Caves do when you're on a European tour, where you're expected to have at least enough live experience to avoid extremely awkard and odd silences in between the songs. It's as if the band doesn't really know how to handle themselves with a crowd that isn't going to give them any favors at such as small size, so a big part of the show is erased for the undersigned as there are moments were you could hear a nail drop on the floor - something which also plagued the early Respirators shows but was quickly fixed with enough live experience underneath their belt. As a result, the show feels a little flat and one-dimensional, which is a shame because when the band actually plays their songs, they prove to be worth the small hype that's reached my ears from the UK in recent weeks.


The funny thing is, the same awkward silences also apply for Spraynard, who are supposed to be used to playing to crowds both big and small after the success of their debut album "Funtitled" in the US. Perhaps it's the lack of clapping and shouting from the crowd on a quiet Tuesday night and an attendance at around 25 at this point of the night, but after a funny beginning where the band jokes about the American health care system vs the free one here in Denmark and other humorous banter, they also face a crowd that don't seem fully committed to the show, which seems to visibly deflate the band, both in terms of energy and effort to get the crowd engaged on stage. It's a shame, because their songs ooze of passionate and honest feeling, whether it's the fast paced no frills punk songs or their more elaborate, twinkly and experimental pieces where build ups lead to explosions of melodic shouting. You definitely get a sense of how these guys would be awesome in a tightly packed, intimate club venue full of Spraynard fans on a couple of moments where a few members of the crowd hear their favorite songs, but this sort of intense connection just doesn't manifest itself in general throughout the course of the show. In conclusion, Spraynard's songs are better than anyone else's tonight, but I have to admit that Respirators take the prize home as the best band tonight in terms of live performance alone.


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