1-Day Hardcore Showdown

support Ignite + Trapped Under Ice + Municipal Waste + Rise And Fall + Poison Idea + Hårda Tider + Night Fever + Brudte Løfter + Vittu
author PP date 23/07/12 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

All photo credit goes to: Jacob Dinesen

Last year, the Copenhagen Hardcore Showdown was a two-day event with only a few bands playing on each night. It was a great initiative to boost the status of the hardcore scene, though with the drawback that the crowd was potentially split into two different sets of concertgoers at each show. The obvious solution is exactly what happened this year: open the doors early, and have every band play on the same night in a celebration of the diversity found within the genre, which makes for an interesting compare and contrast exercise between the bands, and also ensures that everyone who bought at ticket would be potentially present for all bands (wishful thinking, of course).

In addition to the variety found within the lineup tonight, the venue's outdoor terrace/bar opened early for some food and pre-drinks before the show. Moreover, hardcore as an ideology and a lifestyle was prominently on display other than just in the form of a bunch of bands playing: a record shop, and a few organizations promoting pro-environment, pro-animal rights, and pro-human rights movements were also present in the form of Anima, Sea Shepherd, and Screaming Records, adding to the idea that this is more of a hardcore festival than just a regular show with hardcore bands.

Another noteworthy element tonight was the fantastic set up of the set times. With no band playing an extensive set, you were sure to never feel like a concert dragged on too long, and what's better, the organizers opted to alternate between the upstairs and downstairs stages to eliminate any unnecessary waiting time between the different bands. Because when eight bands are playing, if you have to wait that extra 15-20 minutes after each band is done, the night's going to be a really long one, so it was great that once a band finished, the next one was due to start on the other stage within just a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately there isn't a review of Vittu tonight due to unforeseen circumstances which prevented me from arriving at the venue until the last moments of their set.

Brudte Løfter

Originally the festival had booked AYS to replace Left Alone who cancelled some time ago, but due to car trouble the band was unable to make it to Denmark, so Brudte Løfter were called up as a last-minute replacement. It's impressive that the band could drop off their other plans and get to the venue in just under four hours ready to play, so they'll be forgiven for getting off to a worst possible start with their guitar breaking down during a key riff about halfway into their first song. But once the band really gets going, the same thing still applies as last I saw them: they sound a great deal like a lo-fi version of hardcore supergroup OFF!. Except this time around, the band displays much better energy than last time, possibly attributed to the significantly upgraded amount of people watching the band, which helps create that basement-type of intimacy required to pull this kind of show off. That's why when their singer explores the crowd areas by moshing into people and shoving them around, you can see lots of nods of approval across the crowd, simply because the band are putting on the kind of performance they should be doing every night. Today their grade suffers not from lack of energy or effort but from a simple direct comparison to the other bands, as the singer jokingly admits towards the end of the set: "Night Fever is up next, they are much better than us".

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Night Fever

Night Fever, also a Copenhagen-based hardcore band, source their brand of hardcore from the groovy, more hardcore'n'roll oriented base, with plenty of classic rock'n'roll moments in the form of southern rock inspired solos embedded within their high-intensity sound. The word-of-mouth surrounding their energetic shows has not escaped the audience, and as such they see the top floor of Pumpehuset halfway packed already at this early hour to see what these guys are made of. Immediately from the beginning a large portion of the people is with the band, pumping fists in air in response to solid hardcore punk songs like "Expire" that are delivered with an eccentric and charismatic performance. It is during these moments that Night Fever really look like the scene leaders in Denmark, like the one hardcore band with most potential to expand their fan base internationally as well. They play plenty of surprisingly catchy tracks, but as soon as the band ventures outside of their recorded output it becomes easy to tell that they still lack experience and songs before they can play a full set without some songs lacking in variety.

Hårda Tider

Hårda Tider

Times are right for a band like Sweden's Hårda Tider to come along and blow away our collective minds tonight as they have done for years now in the Swedish underground, which has drawn one of the largest turnouts from the outdoor terrace and back into the steaming venue tonight, with the downstairs area packed to its limits. What we are going to witness next is nothing short of a spectacle, as Hårda Tider simply play the near-perfect hardcore set, showcasing tremendous energy and putting up an example for all other aspiring hardcore bands to follow: it doesn't matter if your sound is old school, raw, uncompromising, or unmelodic even, as long as your live show looks like this. Not only are there crazy jumps, but every single inch of the small stage is used to its full extent, with brilliant dynamic between the band and the crowd acting as the icing on top of an extremely chaotic cake. This is the type of band that simply refuses to stand still, even in between songs their singer paces and stomps across the stage from left to right. Because of the astonishing intensity these guys put up tonight, they create a directly dominant, in-your-face type of aggression that not even Trash Talk were able to do last month. The continuous 'HÅRDA TIDER' screams in the midst of their songs ensure that for the rest of the evening, everyone at the venue is discussing a) who the fuck are Hårda Tider and b) how have they stayed undiscovered for this long?

Poison Idea

Poison Idea

Poison Idea may be legends within the hardcore genre, but releasing only a single full length album in the last 15 years has taken a toll on their popularity. As such, most people here are just to check out the band out of curiosity, and although they are seasoned musicians, their stand-still approach to their performance just feels a little bit lazy and kind of lame in comparison to the lesson in passion that Hårda Tider just gave us only moments before. Fortunately, Poison Idea compensate with good banter in between the songs that resembles the care-free chatter of NOFX when playing live. For instance, they open by just coming on stage, where their vocalist is in no hurry of starting and spends the opening minutes telling about his only Copenhagen friend Christian, jokingly expressing his disappointment for him not being here, before asking the venue staff if they have any brighter lights in here (one spotlight is pointing directly in his face). It's all good and well, and the little feats like accepting cans of beer from audience members and then proceeding to drink them mid-song makes for a few chuckles and funny points of interest during their show. Overall though, despite a couple of wooah-wooah enabled classics, their set as a whole is rather forgettable.

Rise And Fall

Rise And Fall

The stock of Belgium's Rise And Fall has been on heavy appreciation ever since they got the nod of approval from the Converge-related label Deathwish Inc, which is a perfect home for their style of metallic chaos-hardcore that's essentially at a halfway point between Norma Jean and Converge. They play mostly songs from "Faith" and "Our Circle Is Vicious" tonight, both solid hardcore/metalcore combo albums that on studio live up to their influences, but tonight feel far less energetic and convincing than they need to be to impress. And when you couple that with the absolutely horrific, red light show which leaves a layer of darkness between the crowd and the band, it's no wonder the audience is just standing still. You can't blame them. People always underplay the importance of a good light show, but here the enduring darkness is a major distraction of the show contributing to the feeling that nothing is really happening on stage. Occasionally the vocalist does some kneeling-on-the-stage type of screaming, but otherwise the band display less energy than their music lends itself to. Disappointing show after their promising records.

Municipal Waste

Municipal Waste

Beer-loving crossover thrashers Municipal Waste provide a much welcome lighthearted approach to their live shows wherever they play, and tonight is no exception. To start out with, their party-loving vocalist makes love to mr. Dinesen's camera, before soon after jokingly asking "so who invited a metal band to a hardcore show, huh?". The thing is, it's extremely difficult to dislike a Waste show because of stunts like these, and most of all their superb groovy and catchy version of crossover thrash. It's no wonder they've built a solid live reputation over the years, and we get the full exposure what it's like to be at a Waste show (though sadly no beer bongs or bodyboards tonight). Their vocalist refers to Copenhagen as 'K-town' like the local hardcore bands do, and proceeds to explain that in case we haven't noticed, they have lots of songs about drinking beer, and later on explaining how "Trashin' Of The Christ" is about moshing in Jesus Christ's face and kicking Mel Gibson in the nuts. It's funny shit like this that puts a smile on the face of even the most dedicated hardcore warrior, and when you add in their excellent talent at writing a groovy, breakneck speed riffs, the crowd is absolutely loving it. "Headbanger Face Rip" is one of the expected highlights of the show, but also the "Municipal Waste is going to fuck you up" chant before the last songs is sweet. There's no denying: Municipal Waste is still one of the funnest live bands around.

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Trapped Under Ice

Trapped Under Ice

Trapped Under Ice pretty much live up to every single stereotype you might have about tough-guy hardcore. Down-tuned, two-step friendly riffs, and every single band member wearing shorts. But as suspected in my previous album reviews with the band, their brand of hardcore is designed to be played live and as such both feels and sounds much better than it does on record, and there's no denying that they are excellent at just their own style tonight. Opener "Pleased To Meet You" gets the crowd going straight away, and when the band rivals Hårda Tider as the second most energetic band on the bill tonight, the crowd-dynamic is ensured and the intimate surroundings help create a convincing set overall. The microphone makes its way into the crowd on numerous occasions, with passionate hardcore fans giving their everything to help out the vocalist whenever needed, not that it's needed at all. Lets put it this way: Trapped Under Ice prove tonight that their live reputation is exactly what you read about on the internet: they incite an honest, passionate hardcore riot.

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Ignite

Ignite

The odd ones out from the lineup to start out with as the only decidedly punk band on the bill tonight, Ignite are further weakened by the loss of the current Pennywise vocalist Zoli Teglas, whose recent collapse on stage with Ignite turned out to be more serious than we were led to believe so the had invited Sense Field vocalist Jon Bunch to cover for him for the rest of this tour. We're told he learned the entire set in just four days, which is impressive in its own right, but he also sounds a great deal like Zoli so chances are that first time onlookers had no idea it wasn't their actual vocalist until the band told them so. He does a decent job as a substitute, but lacks Zoli's charisma, whether on purpose or not, but probably the former given his choice of nondescript clothing as well to avoid a situation where new fans would start to identify with him on this tour.

Fans of Rise Against and The Offspring probably notice the immediate similarities between Ignite and these bands, and halfway through the set you could argue that Ignite probably have the best material songwise tonight. Highlights like "Bleeding" and "Better Days" show why this band is so respected - except for tonight where the top floor of the venue is virtually empty compared to what it was earlier. They guys are doing a fine job on stage but it's always going to be hard to be awesome when there's so few people left watching your show, so intensity is more than halved as a result. Even the Bad Brains cover "Banned In D.C" doesn't get the crowd going, so I choose to leave as well towards the end of their set a little bit disappointed, sadly discovering that the amount of people in the outside bar far outweighed the number of people still inside watching Ignite.

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Overall though, the hardcore showdown was a smashing success. Hundreds of people attended, and the organization was fantastic, especially because of the set times and how you never had to wait around for the next band to start (which would've attracted people to drink at the bar outside most likely). Moreover, I didn't see a single karate-mosh pit tonight, which helped create some awesome crowd dynamics between the bands and the audience given that there were no needless empty spaces in between. A healthy push-shove mosh pit is always preferable to the empty space created by a few people, so props up to the crowd for that tonight, although I'm not sure if it was intentional rather than a few self-volunteer crowd guards mowing down anyone attempting anything retarded tonight. Either way, a successful event, and a benchmark for next summer for sure.

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