Disco Ensemble

support Death Letters
author TL date 30/10/12 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

The odds weren't exactly stacked in the favour of our 9th All Killer, No Filler event. Not only because Disco Ensemble, our chosen band for October, have waned slightly in popularity over here since a number of performances in 2006, but also because their visit landed on a weekday at the very end of the month, which meant that naturally, it would be harder for many interested fans to find the time and resources to come out for the show. Fortunately, as yours truly showed up and started spinning tunes, more and more familiar faces started showing up in spite of the circumstances, so that when the time came for tonight's support band, the population of the venue was probably around the 50-60 people and a good mood seemed to be about.

See more photos from Jill Decome here

Death Letters surprising just about everybody

Death Letters

Tonight's warm-up duty had been given to the Dutch duo Death Letters, whom I had only heard one song from before coming to the show. It had sounded good though, so I made sure to tell everyone who would listen that they shouldn't miss the band's set because they might be good. I had not expected they would be this good however. Singer/guitarist Duende Ariza Lora is flat out electric from the start of the set to the end. Acting upon the basis of the energetic and versatile drumming of Victor Brandt, the frontman establishes a melodic soundscape singlehandedly with a flurry of foot- and fretwork. In a whirlwind of stomping pedals and bending strings, Lora takes the audience on a dynamic journey through tranquil post-rock-ish quiets to frantic post-hardcore rages, reminding me of everyone from Thomas Erak (The Fall Of Troy) - over Flood Of Red, Wolfmother, The Mars Volta, Muse - to even Black Sabbath in a particularly groovy riff towards the end of the set.

Most of the crowd quickly have their faces wow'ed, and their grimaces stick from start to finish, as Lora follows one flavour of guitar intricacy after another while also simultaneously showing off expert precision with both screamed vocals and highly characteristic cleans. The only problem is that everybody is in such a trance, that the gap between band and audience is never closed by even a single moving body, which means that we're left to wonder just how good a show Death Letters could have been playing to an audience that knows and appreciates them. Still, judging from tonight, they'll have chances to do so in the future, because it seems like a lot of people are going home to listen to them after the show.

Disco Ensemble finding their form

Disco Ensemble

After a changeover spent having a few more beers and some dorky talks about old punk and post-hardcore classics the time comes for Disco Ensemble to step on stage. They begin with the opening track from their most recent album "Warriors" and soon follow with "Second Soul", signalling that the set will naturally include a healthy doze of songs from this album. Most of the crowd looks like they haven't had time to become familiar with this material however, yet things are a little more active when the band's most famous keyboard signature opens "We Might Fall Apart", which gets a handful of fans near the front (including myself) rocking and shouting along.

Starting out the band do not look like they've hit their top form quite yet at this early point in their tour, but as the show goes on criss-crossing their discography and various fans signal their approval of airings of classics like "Threat Letter Typewriter" and "Drop Dead Casanova", the guys on stage also get slightly more active. Singer/synthplayer Miikka Koivisto travels the small width allowed to him with frantic paces, delivering his forceful singing with precision and regularly knocking over the mic for the kick drum, while guitarist Jussi Ylikoski looks a beacon of coolness, squeezing one characteristic hook out of his guitar and pedals after the other, drawing particular attention to himself on a few occasions when he taps a lead while 'strumming' the killswitch on his guitar for a highly peculiar effect (combining with the tremolo in the solo to "So Cold" in an especially cool way).

Disco Ensemble bassist Lasse Lindfors

As a fan of Disco Ensemble the show is encouraging with the way the band makes room for songs from all of their albums except the debut "Viper Ethics". You could argue that they could've played songs from that as well instead of playing quite as much from "Warriors", seeing as the slower songs like "Too Much Feeling" and "Your Shadow" feel a bit like lulls compared to the more explosive material of old, but then favouring of new material is only to be expected. It's not as much an actual handicap for the show as is the Finnish awkwardness the band displays between songs, speaking rarely and striking an odd contrast to the energy of their music. Furthermore, it's clear that most of tonight's audience are not overwhelmingly familiar with the band's material, prompting them to gradually get a bit restless listening to Disco Ensemble's relatively repetitive approach to songwriting. It's a bit of a shame, because while their songs aren't all that different, plenty of them are super catchy and energetic, and with so many of them gathered and played with as good sound as they are tonight, I can only imagine that it would make for some crazy shows in venues around Europe where the band expects a warmer welcome. Still though, DE could have done more themselves to engage the crowd that was here after all, so they too eventually must make do with being graded as good but not great.

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