Kashmir

support Britah
author HES date 23/03/13 venue Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, DEN

I arrive at Falconer Salen by following the hordes of bearded hipsters with beanies and ironic sweaters. I’m here a bit late so the hall is already buzzing with people. But I don’t really know how to feel yet. This is Falconer Salen – for those of you who haven’t been here it’s basically a theatre. Before me is a grand hall, a stage and endless rows of velvet-clad, red seats inhabited by people of all creeds. Turns out I came with the hipster-stream but there are representatives from all levels of society. The moms out on town, the elderly couples that usually come here, youngsters, the Copenhagen music elite and then couples, couples, couples and couples. I am seated right between two pairs. Lucky me.

Britah

Britah - Photos by Peter Troest

Anyway – the warm up act hits the stage in the form of the Swedish Britah. The group is led by (as the name also suggests) Brita Josefine, a cute little vixen in her androgynous set of hat, suspenders and lacquered shoes. Even though Falconer Salen does a great job of calling the bell twice before show start the crowd is having a hard time understanding that we are now being entertained. In most rows people are chit chatting without any awareness of being obnoxious. At a normal venue I would’ve just moved closer to the stage and left the chattering bunch behind in the back. But here I have to sit right between people who are only here to see Kashmir, paying very little respect to the fact that the band has chosen Britah as their support band quite deliberately – lead singer Kasper Eistrup even featured on their newly released album. This really puts a great big question mark with Kashmir’s choice of venue. However Britah still manages to catch my attention and people start quieting down eventually.

Needless to say there is extremely good sound here tonight. A venue that on a day-to-day basis has to deliver comprehensible dialogue from the stage to its audience has this down to a pin point. Britah’s voice is beautiful, vulnerable and soft, almost reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor back in her heyday. She is supported by a key/synth guy but most amazingly: A drummer with an electrical drum-set. Now I have seen these before. Many musicians use them for home practice because you can hook them up to a head-set and not disturb your neighbors, but this guy has made an art out of it. To start with I am pretty convinced that the electronica-inspired drum-sounds are sampled and just played in the background, but no! This guy is actually playing live. He has simply played around with the sound-output of the drums where I’ve only before heard them with a classic drum-sound.

Britah is definitely on their A-game tonight. Josefine's voice pierces through the chattering, demanding attention and taking us on a journey into a universe of both Swedish pop-craftsmanship but also from ambient slow songs to more quirky and upbeat song like their recent single “Heartbreaker”. It’s almost sin to have to say it, but in many senses she is reminiscent of Swedish power-house Robyn. But luckily Britah is way more laid-back, indie-inspired and interesting. This flies really well with tonight’s crowd. Too bad that some of them didn’t even notice because they were too busy talking.

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Kashmir

Curtain call and finally people start hushing on each other. The anticipation in the room is at a high and as the band hits the stage half the venue gives them a standing applause. The first few songs are some of the quieter ones Kashmir has released like the hauntingly beautiful “Piece of the Sun” off their newest album “E.A.R”. After a couple of songs, the rest of the band leaves lead singer and front figure Kasper Eistrup as he does a very toned down and overwhelmingly beautiful version of “Still Boy” off the “Trespassers”-album, only supported by his own guitar and a bit of piano by Henrik Lindstrand. Following this you would expect the band to come back and pick the pace back up, but Kashmir is up to following absolutely no conventions of regular rock shows tonight. So why not have another quiet solo? As Eistrup breaks into the iconic “The Curse of Being a Girl” and you can hear the crowd humming along on every note. The lights are down. Only Eistrup and the piano are lit up by two single cones of lights.

Kashmir - Photos by Peter Troest

After playing a couple of songs more, Eistrup tries to make an explanation of the cryptic arrangement of tonight. As he says “This is just our way of saying that you should just relax and enjoy the music” referring to the seating arrangements in particular but also the whole of the first set that is characterized by a not-very-rock-concert kind of show. Judging by the songs the band has selected out of their vast repertoire, they have made an absolute conscious choice to pick the most introvert songs like “In The Sand” which is maybe not a song you could normally appreciate put up against the more hard-rocking tracks of "Travelogue". So yes. We get it Kashmir. You want us to see more of you than we usually do. But are you really getting too old to use your distortion pedal? They end the set with a powerful version of “The Aftermath” which is actually quite the ballad on the album version. But spiced up with a bit of harmonica this is actually beginning to sound more like it. Eistrup said in his earlier explanation that we were still allowed to dance on the seats – he might be surprised by how literally this was taken later on.

Alright so anticipation is high when the next set starts. Kashmir of course chose “Pedestals” as their second opening number. I expected this when I first heard it on the new album “E.A.R” and even though I did not like it that much in that setting – I think it’s quite ingenious to use it as an opener. The track is 8-9 minutes long and almost only made out of ambient guitar sounds and noise. But the quiet start leaves people time to get to their seats and as it reaches a crescendo it completely drowns whatever noise was left from the break. The band tends to the release of energy by going directly into their radio-hit “Kalifornia” and people start to move in their seats. It’s like a bomb has been released here in the conservative, stringent environment of seats and fur coats. And as the very first notes of their monster hit of the “Zitilites” album “Rocket Brothers” hit the crowd – everyone stands up collectively. Everyone is singing along and some decide to take it to the front. As the band continues into more fan-favorites like “Mouthful of Wasps” there is no more expensive front-seating left but a moving, dancing and rocking crowd of fans completely incapable of holding back their enthusiasm.

Kasper Eistrup - Photos by Peter Troest

This show started as a seated, well-behaved listening session but is now full on rock concert and the band is having a hard time seeing their plans being ruined so perfectly and Eistrup even has to break out into a praising rampage of how amazing tonight’s audience is. This is not exactly something new to say at rock show, but you get the sense that the band is honestly taken-a-back by the insanity of the people in front of them. They may have wanted something different, but they sure didn’t get that and as the second part of the show continues the band serves up a wonderful, more unpolished version of “Surfing the Warm Industry” and lastly a version of recent single “Seraphina” with a completely re-written version of the intro. The band ends up leaving the stage twice to come back and unfortunately it was clear that they were prepared for call-backs but not of this kind. So the tracks they’d probably pre-chosen fell a bit short – “Small Poem of Old Friend”, “The Cynic” and “Big Fresh” fell a bit out of place with an overly-enthusiastic crowd. This would’ve been a perfect time for the band to break with their own dogmas and give us some songs from their 90’s albums that they have completely ignored through-out the concert. “Mommy In Love, Daddy In Space” or “Jamie Fame Flame” would’ve rounded this night off with perfection. The very old “Splittet til Atomer” almost does it though.

I greatly appreciate the fact that Kashmir are playing with the “regular” way of putting together a rock show. What they very widely lack is the communication between themselves and their fans. If they wanted to make a quiet show they should’ve announced it as a quiet show. If they wanted to keep people in their seats for the first set only to rock out at the second they should’ve communicated that. The show was widely dominated by tracks from the “Zitilites”-album and none from the albums before that. There’s a fine line between a fan-base respecting to have to listen to their not-so-favorite songs in return for the bands not-so-favorite songs at another point. In this case I think Kashmir took a little more than they gave tonight which puts a little bit of tarnish on an otherwise absolutely bone-rocking, goose-bumping and soul-shaking night in their company.

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