Smoke Or Fire

support Astpai + Stars Burn Stripes
author PP date 09/04/13 venue Kraftwerket, Copenhagen, DEN

The basement style DIY venue Kraftwerket at the outskirts of Copenhagen has quite the exciting schedule planned for the next couple months, starting with tonight's punk rock package with local heroes Stars Burn Stripes supporting the Austrian punk rock surprise in Astpai and headliners Smoke Or Fire. The latter, of course, are a Fat Wreck Chords band, so the trend of sending one Fat Wreck band to Denmark each spring and autumn continues unabated in 2013 it seems.

Vocalist Lasse of Stars Burn Stripes

Stars Burn Stripes

It's been a long while since Stars Burn Stripes were last seen in a live environment. The band has spent most of the fall and winter writing songs for their debut album, and more recently, in studio putting finishing touches on the record. That they are a little rusty at first should therefore surprise no-one, but a couple of songs in the band regains their energy and confidence, with guitarist Brian showcasing his lightning speed chord shifts for some of the more aggressive and technically challenging new material that's comIng up SOON. "I Lost The Point" and other old favorites are aired, but we've heard the songs from their first two EPs so many times by now, so tonight's most interesting experience is hearing the new songs for the first time. On first listen it's difficult to tell for sure, but the new material sounds more mature from a songwriting perspective, and in many ways more melodic and catchy than their explosive screamed out punk rock has been to date. I counted a number of occasions where I thought "man, that lead rips" during their set. A decent showing, but let's get the album out already!




One of my favorite discoveries within the last year in punk rock is Astpai from Austria, whose sound is a perfect fit for Fat Wreck Chords, yet they haven't been discovered by Fat Mike just yet. Though they can offer plenty of speed and killer punk riffs on top of their singer's smokey delivery, it's their slow and mid-tempo songs that highlight their brilliance as songwriters. Tonight, they air the best of both worlds. The huge chorus of "Biting Dogs Don't Chew" turns heads almost immediately with its mixture of explosive screaming and infectious chorus melody, and closer "Honest Or Sentimental" is a fantastic example of how to write a six-minute song in punk rock, make it sound halfway progressive, and deliver a monumental chorus without resorting into ballads. It's one of the best songs you haven't heard from 2012, and experiencing it live is a back-chill invoking experience. On top of that, the band showcase tremendous energy on stage, whether in the form of rocking explosively back and forth, or making small jumps, and all that stuff. Their 10 years experience as a band certainly shows, and they are arguably the best band tonight both in terms of material as well as performance.


Smoke Or Fire

If Astpai were the band pushing the envelope with a progressive and slightly experimental take on punk rock, then Smoke Or Fire are the opposite. They play straight up political punk rock that's eerily similar to Anti-Flag or Rise Against (depending on the song), but that's what they're good at and that's why they have a number of exceptional songs with strong chorus melodies. It also means that because their sound is so similar to those two bands, it's easy to spot where they are weak in comparison, and why they haven't broken through the scene in the same way, but that just speaks volumes about the talent of those bands considering Smoke Or Fire are excellent in their own right. They aren't quite as energetic on stage as Astpai, but they're more entertaining in between songs. For instance, one of the guys pulls out a Danish flag made out of legos, demands our appreciation for his craftsmanship and the detail of the flag, and asks if someone could take him to Legoland tonight. A little far away, but I guess you can't fault someone from the opposing side of the world to know Danish geography.

Smoke Or Fire

Their upbeat punk rock tracks generate good pit movement from the 40 something people present at the venue tonight, with songs from latest album "The Speakeasy" drawing the best response. "Monsters Among Us" and "1968" are some of the highlights, but final song "California's Burning" is the obvious 'hit' song people have been waiting for tonight. It closes an evening of excellent punk rock where Astpai stole the spotlight, Stars Burn Stripes delivered a good support set, and Smoke Or Fire schooled us in classic Fat Wreck punk rock.


  • 1. What Separates Us All
  • 2. Fire Escapes
  • 3. Hope And Anchor
  • 4. Monsters Among Us
  • 5. Filter
  • 6. Culture As Given
  • 7. Everything Falls Apart
  • 8. Irish Handcuffs
  • 9. Neon Light
  • 10. "I'll Be Drunk" (according to Setlist)
  • 11. 1968
  • 12. Cops And Drugs
  • 13. Integrity
  • 14. The Patty Hearst Syndrome
  • --Encore--
  • 15. Cryin' Shame
  • 16. 'Cock' (according to Setlist)
  • 17. Melatonin
  • 18. California's Burning

Photos by Eva Bozevniece

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