Spindrift

support The Outlaw Trails + Blaak Heat Shujaa
author BV date 27/06/13 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Well, on this particular Thursday night I found myself doing something that I hadn’t done in a very long time – wandering through the meat-packing district of Copenhagen, looking for the sacred land of the night where my long time fascination Spindrift would play a headlining show – coincidentally supported by a, to me, completely unrelated band that I quite like as well, them being called Blaak Heat Shujaa. As I wandered through the meatpacking district with a small gang of friends, associates and odd in-betweens, the first frustration of the night came when I, once again just at a different venue, experienced the ever-frustrating guest-list trouble. Thanks to one of the nice guys in Blaak Heat Shujaa though, KB18 seemed to recover the guest-list on where my name appeared so that I could enter the venue for what seemed to be quite a diverse night – musically speaking.

All photos courtesy of Kenny Swan

The Outlaw Trails

First up were the Danish newcomers in The Outlaw Trails. Following the theme of the night I expected something uniquely psychedelic or, at least, something vastly inspired by the great Ennio Morricone. Turns out I had neither in store – which actually became a great and positive surprise. Despite a rather uniform choice of wordings in the lyrics with phrases like; “I’m leaving” constantly reappearing, The Outlaw Trails were actually a quite nice mix between the folk-ish and the slightly aggressive country-rock. With the inclusion of a banjo, an autoharp, a mandolin and other weird sounds they kind of reminded me of Mumford and Sons in a slightly angrier outfit – as kindly pointed out by my photographer of the night. The dynamics of the band were great and showed real potential for a band this new, but the sound turned out to be less than optimal. At this point, the volume levels were perfectly fine but the mix left something to wish for; like more banjo and autoharp for instance, as I found them quite hard to discern in between the many other muddled-up sounds. All in all a good and solid 40 minute live show from a band I’m expecting to keep an eye on, waiting to see if they fulfill their potential.

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Blaak Heat Shujaa

Now, this particular band had been on my ‘check-out’ list for a while – ever since I reviewed their new album actually, as I found it to be vastly alluring and extremely dynamic. However, from the first notes played it became quite evident that: a) their backline was way too loud for a small place like KB18 and b) the sound-tech really didn’t seem to care at all, as this particular problem went on throughout the night. - More on that later though. As Blaak Heat Shujaa went on through their colossally jam-laden set, one thing completely stood out to me – this would have been so cool if the volume levels were adjusted properly for the venue and, well, if more people would have turned up at this point as there was only a small gathering of maybe 20-25 people present at the time they went on. As their set slowly progressed, the front-man of the band delighted the crowd with a slightly ranting story that went a little like this: “So, uh, we were like, doing Ether while listening to Ether and then all of a sudden I saw Dick Dale man and he was like… Dude, you should really play this song man. So uh, we did.” few moments after this, Blaak Heat Shujaa blasted into a rendition of an obscure Dick Dale song that nearly no one in the crowd seemed to recognize – though they recognized the Dick Dale styling which, in turn, provoked quite the applause.

As the band neared the end of their set (with something like 20 minutes to go) they decided to play the entire A-side of their new album – a selection of three tracks that are collectively known as “The Beast”. Spanning nearly 20 minutes, this prog-rock suite contains some maliciously fuzzy riffs, wah-fueled leads and ludicrously powerful drumming – the kind of drumming that sent the bass-drum further and further away from the kit itself, much to the obvious frustration of the drummer. Unfortunately, this was one the few very memorable moments for psych-heads like me, as the finer details of the set never really stood out in the murky and un-discernible mix. A shame really, but I’m choosing to see it as a chance to catch them again sometime, at another venue perhaps.

Spindrift

The time finally came for me to put on my hat, get a drink at the saloon and prepare for a showdown in the streets because it was on. Spindrift opened their psychedelic spaghetti-western show with a couple of new tracks from their upcoming release “Ghost of the West” that were performed in a duo format – much to my surprise, but it didn’t hurt the set even though these tracks obviously weren’t as memorable yet, as what was to come. As the duo became a trio and the trio eventually became a quartet, the imagery conjured up by their outlaw outfits became increasingly cooler. As vastly corny as they may appear, this sense of complete aesthetics is one of Spindrift’s absolute strengths – as one would surely understand if one had experienced their soundtrack-laden music, coupled with their outfits and the projections of various related film-strips and psychedelic visuals. At this point of the night, the sound was still excruciatingly loud but had gotten a more discernible edge to it – pleasing me a bit, at least, as I could now finally hear all four instruments being played. When the track “Red Reflection”, one of the few non-instrumental tracks of Spindrift, made its appearance the crowd greeted it with applause suitable for a massive hit. And I guess that’s quite fitting really as this particular song has hit potential in my ideal world. – Or at least it had when it first came out. The fact that the track is highly danceable is no real issue either as many of the oddly attractive young women that were present started dancing to the jangly western tunes. An unexpected but quite welcome sight, really.

Spindrift seemed to waste no time in conjuring up a connection between themselves and the ever-growing crowd in front of the stage as they played another crowd favorite called “Speak to the Wind”, an instrumental classic that sounds like it could have easily been used in a classic Eastwood flick. It’s no surprise to me though, as “Speak to the Wind” comes off what I deem to be their greatest album; the soundtrack album “The Legend of God’s Gun”. The track contained various elements quite distinct to the genre – ranging from the beautiful ‘hu-huu-huuu’ choir, the jangling and reverb-drenched tremolo guitar leads and the soaring vibrato that gently puts the guitar out of tune and brings it back into it with dramatic effects. Indeed, Spindrift are quite aware of how to write good soundtrack music and, oddly enough, they seem to have garnered quite the fan-base on this alone.

Nearing the end of the show, it becomes quite evident that the frontman of Blaak Heat Shujaa is indeed one of the four masked men on stage as the talk once again falls on Dick Dale. As the band slowly teases on what’s to come, it becomes quite apparent that they are actually taking a chance and doing something bold – namely doing a rendition of the greatest surf classic of all time; “Misirlou”. Their staggering rendition leaves the crowd in a state of euphoria where, for a brief moment, sound issues were non-existent and everything was perfect. After the rather forgettable encores the show comes to an abrupt end that could have been better, for example if they had called it quits after “Misirlou”. Nonetheless, Spindrift came off as being in an entirely different league than the two previous bands and, despite the ever-present sound issues, Spindrift gave one hell of a show – just as I had hoped they would.

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