This Town Needs Guns

support Birthmark
author PP date 09/02/13 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a cold Saturday night and there's a bit of a snow blizzard outside, which could explain why there aren't more people at BETA tonight. Or maybe I had just over-estimated the clout that math rockers This Town Needs Guns (or TTNG as they are known these days) have over the Danish music fans. They've been on the receiving end of a ton of hype internationally lately for their new album "13.0.0.0.0", but also for its predecessor "Animals", so you'd imagine some of that hype slowly making its way to the Danish shores as well. Luckily it's enough to fill out the gig room enough to make it not feel empty, ensuring we'd be getting a good show out of tonight regardless.

He actually used everything on that desk. Impressive

Birthmark

For this tour, TTNG have brought along an untraditional choice of support: Nate Kinsella, a multi-instrumentalist who writes music under the moniker of Birthmark. His live setup consists of him sitting on half a drum set with a guitar around his neck, and in front of him a desk with a ton of effects panels, a Mac, and a xylophone among other things. He charmingly explains this to be because it's very expensive to bring people across the atlantic, so he has to use machines to produce what normally is created by real musicians (or himself in the studio). He has a rather shy, totally down to earth and appreciative personality, which easily disarms skeptics like myself to give his ultra experimentalist compositions a real shot: this is far outside the realms of rock music so many of us are far outside of our comfort zone, but that's all the better because Birthmark's music is best described as an out-of-body experience. It's so laid back and relaxed, yet complex and experimentalist, often relying on live electronics (creation of loops etc) to fill the otherwise quiet and contemplative soundscapes. Think Radiohead vocals over experimental singer/songwriter/indie or something. Unfortunately for many, it's too quiet for a Saturday evening as it's not exactly beer drinking music. Moreover, while his musicianship is an interesting experience, it's a little bit too far outside of the box for a rock music fan like myself. After a while, it's just too quiet and uneventful, too detail-oriented to matter in the grand scheme of things.

TTNG singer/second guitarist

This Town Needs Guns

That being said, detail-oriented is exactly what This Town Needs Guns is, except in a completely different way to Birthmark. Here, the detail is found within the incredible fretwork that has large portions of the venue completely hypnotized and staring at their lead guitarists fingers. Some of the techniques he has to use to pull off some of the ridiculous 45/8 time signatures (or so I'm told by guitar geeks) are quite simply outrageous to a regular music fan, and I'm not just talking about regular hyper speed finger tapping either. These extreme feats of technical intricacies are a spectacle to witness live, especially given the relative ease at which both guitarists execute their mesmerizing repertoire with such blinding precision. I'm wondering on several occasions how it's even possible to do what these guys do on guitar, which is partially why the show feels so magical tonight. There's even a part where the rhythm guitarist plays two guitars at the same time for good measure. And the drumming, which is often under represented in music with such technically oriented guitars, is phenomenally complex as well.

Then you factor in the silky-smooth vocals of their new singer, and the whole venue is surrounded with a rich, complex soundscape that creates a tranquil, but at the same time upbeat mood, especially when the band play their best material. Moreover, the band's banter in between the song is some of the most down-to-earth I've seen, so much like Birthmark earlier they connect with the crowd instantly, and create an intimate setting that's increasingly rare these days. This is highlighted by the ending, where the band asks everyone in the venue to sit down on the floor and to quiet down (which everyone obliges), but instead of Slipknot style jump up coming up next, the band also disconnect all of their electronic instruments, grab an acoustic guitar, and sit down with us for a campfire style session. Here, their new vocalist really shines singing without a microphone, while the lead guitarist shows off his acoustic guitar skills, to finish off what is truly a magical evening. There's really only one criticism you're allowed to have tonight, and it's the somewhat awkward silences that the band have in between songs sometimes as they tune their guitars. But that's just nit-picking, because otherwise TTNG are amazing tonight.

Photos by: Peter Troest

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