Devil's Coach Horse

support Disarray Son
author TL date 23/08/13 venue High Voltage, Copenhagen, DEN

After a year in which staffers have been running around attending shows and festivals of wildly varying sizes, covering events as far away as Belgium, France and (gulp) Aarhus, it seemed like a good idea for me to preserve some grounding on an idle Friday night, by dragging AP to what can aptly be described as a good, old-fashioned bar-show. Having been hindered several times of late, from catching up with local retro-rockers Disarray Son, the band's show tonight at the High Voltage rock'n'roll club - alongside Devil's Coach-Horse, a band completely unbeknownst to me - appeared an opportunity asking to be taken advantage of. So then, after laying down some groundwork (see: chugging a handful of drinks), we shuffled up to the small, yet elevated stage situated in one end of the club just as Disarray Son played their first song..

All pictures courtesy of Philip B. Hansen

Disarray Son

For those who haven't heard of Disarray Son, the band is a young quartet from Køge that plays an old-school, riff-based rock'n'roll with nods to Led Zeppelin and with dusty hints of a western swagger alá Bon Jovi's "Blaze Of Glory". If it wasn't for singer/guitarist Anders Friis' slightly deeper vocals and a tendency to take some surprisingly grungy twists in some of their choruses, I'd be quick to call them an underground, Danish answer to bands like Wolfmother and The Parlor Mob.

Coming on, the lads have drawn a solid score of friends and fans and curious onlookers to the stage, as they start out with some of the earlier tracks from their "Them Floaters" EP, ie. the title track and "New Times". Both of these are among the more subtle and straight-forwardly structured songs the band have showcased yet, with the guitars mostly crawling threateningly in the back while Friis provides the attitude with his spirited, husky singing. I get the feeling that both band and fans need to gradually work the mood up tonight, and there's a clear contrast when the band lets rip in the solo sections of each song, where the interplay between Friis and lead guitarist Mads Kieler truly shines, as both perform their parts animatedly, and with their energy clearly rubbing off on the audience.

Still, I can't suppress the fact that "Brave New World" is the song I'm waiting for, simply because it showcases everything Disarray Son do well so far, built together in an elegant composition that's beyond the band's years. With the immediate introduction of a ballsy main riff, the song branches out in various directions, with subtle little dynamics written into each bar to keep teasing the listener's ear, only to always come back around to dat groove, even after cheeky, lengthy bridge of spacy, wailing noise. By the time they play it, Disarray Son are already looking more comfortable on stage, and guests are nodding heads and applauding appreciatively, and afterwards, it's smooth sailing with a couple of finishing songs including the hard-going "There Goes My Baby". Admittedly, this is "only" a bar show, with modest lights and sound system and with only half the population of the room actually paying close attention to Disarray Son, but when you notice the details that the band has in check in their music, this only serves as a contrast that makes you think that it's due time they get more music out and start making moves.


Devil's Coach Horse

Admittedly it's always a little weird to be at a gig where you're looking forward to an early band and have no familiarity with the last one on the bill, but then being a music reviewer doesn't really make any sense if you're not always open to checking out new bands and finding out about their qualities. So to start out, I approach the stage along with a similarly sized crowd as the one that stepped up for Disarray Son's set, as Devil's Coach Horse are playing the first song of theirs. Quite quickly however, it becomes apparent that the best thing I can immediately say about them, is that it's sort of hard to peg what exactly they're trying to do with their sound.

Verses and choruses form on quirky, indie/rock'n'roll riffs that remind me most of Franz Ferdinand, while semi-high-pitched, slightly hysterical vocals deliver relatively simple melodies on top of pedestrian rhythm work from the bassist and drummer. The transitions between parts are sharply cut, and apparently, Devil's Coach Horse make a point to throw in a bridge that almost completely contrasts the rest of the song. Otherwise it's straight-forward and clearly built for a party environment, because there's not much meat on the bone, neither in terms of musical detail or lyrical content (from what I manage to pick up from the songs about "Charlie Sheen" and "Django").

Still, the audience seems grateful enough, and the band are apparently taking the obligation to entertain seriously, as their guitarist - wearing wayfarers and a hipster cap - is brandishing his classic, red Gibson SG on a leopard-print strap, and the frontman makes sure to fill out any silence in between songs. Yet as the songs pile up, I get increasingly annoyed with the proceedings on stage. The arrangements are not gaining in either depth or infectiousness, and the whole thing seems a bit hollow; an impression that's underscored by the fact that while the frontman talks between songs, it's clearly just bullshit delivered with a put-on, camp tone of voice, meant to fill out the silence more than to connect with us in any way. Moreover, the backing singer the band brings on stage looks out of place, and his harmonies are arranged in a way that hinder the songs' dynamics more than it boosts them, and when he sings along with the frontman, any qualities in either's voice blur each other out.

So more and more I feel like the whole thing is frustratingly pointless. If Devil's Coach Horse are satisfied being a party band, they have the energetic beats, the easily accessible riffs and the low charm to thrive at that, but they deliver nothing to encourage anyone in the audience to go home and explore and connect with their songs. I can't completely rule out that they may have more to offer than just a silly waste of time, but if they do, it's not coming across to me tonight, and for the last part of the set, I'm waiting with rising impatience for them to end so I can rush out, and put some music in my headphones that has more worthwhile meaning at its heart.


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