Mamont

support Mud Walk + Lewd Flesh
author AP date 12/09/13 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

It seems that every time I chance upon some vaguely intriguing names on Stengade's gig calendar, and decide, on a whiff, to go check them out, I am rewarded for my curiosity with concerts that consistently rank among the best of the year. Stengade may not have a particularly impressive booking budget, but what they lack in financial backing, they compensate for with an excellent lighting rig, a quality sound mix and the sort of discovery bands you'll be raving to your friends about for weeks, and harassing them for missing out. Tonight's underground sensation at Stengade is a duo of Swedish heritage rock bands backed by a local act discovered by Stengade staff at one of their weekly Play IT! open stage events. Read on to find out what I thought of the evening's entertainment.

All photos by Peter Troest

Lewd Flesh

As mentioned above, Lewd Flesh should be familiar to people frequenting the Play IT! events at this venue. So it is perhaps not a surprise that a very sizable crowd assembles before the stage as they begin churning out some rather archetypical stoner rock. The band consists of three girls - vocalist Malene Pedersen, guitarist Nanna Braunschweig and bassist Sabine Andersen - and one guy, Carl Johan Hanberg behind the drum kit, but based on my observations here Ms. Pedersen could well be said to be the band. From the word go, her seductive, seance-like movements on stage have the male attendance in a trance, watching with wide eyes as she gracefully sways her hips to the slow, droning songs whilst roaring in a most unexpectedly powerful, strained voice. It carries such strength that at times, I forget it's a person of the opposite sex singing, and I think to myself, "I wouldn't want to get into an argument with this girl."

Lewd Flesh's Malene Pedersen roaring like a beast

Still, despite her rather manly style of singing, there isn't a shred of doubt that she has the pipes to sing in whatever style she pleases, and the occasional lapses into more fragile - or should I say, psychedelic - singing are strong evidence of this. Alas, though Ms. Pedersen's charisma and intensely provocative demeanor generate quite the impression, Lewd Flesh's music still seems to be at an infant stage. It's easy to whip up a solid groove - and at this Lewd Flesh succeed more than once - but many of the genre staples, such as prolonged acidic solos and instrumental jams are almost non-existent, and as a result, the band's songs have an unfortunate tendency to blend into one another and never offer those moments of revelation that are so essential to forging a lasting memory imprint. It does not help either, that Ms. Andersen & Ms. Braunschweig spend the 45-minute set staring down the necks of their instruments in a way that makes them look not just shy, but also like a mere backdrop to Ms. Pedersen's solo project - which Lewd Flesh by no means is not.

6

Mud Walk's Liv Platzer busting out grooves

Mud Walk

From the outset, Mud Walk from Sweden are a far more promising outfit, vocalist Johanna Bayard appearing on stage barefoot, clad in a hippie robe and tiara to initiate the proceedings with a wonderful Western style harmonica solo backed by her all-girl band's take on heavy psychedelic rock. I am at once reminded of Dean Allen Foyd and Rival Sons, though the approach here is somewhat more focused than the former's, and considerably heavier than the latter's; just as I am at once captivated by the unreal tightness, songwriting prowess, and collective energy of the band. Judging by the now-100-strong audience, I am not alone in thinking, "This band is good." In fact, this band is an absolute revelation to me, for I do admittedly possess the rather cynical opinion that all-girl outfits rarely manage to live up to their mixed or all-male colleagues. Mind you, it is an opinion forged from experience, and not from general misogyny, so no offense is intended.

Mud Walk's Johanna Payard in her hippie garb

If Lewd Flesh's Malene Pedersen gave the band's show the feel of a seance, then what Mud Walk muster up here is more akin to some mushroom-fueled full moon party in the middle of a dark Swedish pinewood forest; a spiritual and psychedelic ritual of twangy spaced-out melodies, heavy grooves and some downright otherworldly guitar solos and jams, courtesy of Liv Platzer and Stina Årman-Assargård. In essence, Mud Walk provide all that Lewd Flesh did not, and then some. But perhaps most refreshing about their concert is the enthusiasm with which Mud Walk perform, with all the look and feel of a band of lifelong friends reveling in a mutual passion for music; and the enthusiasm of the audience, which helps fuel the band's smiles and constantly expressed gratitude. Mud Walk may well be the best psychedelic/stoner-rock band you've never heard of, and you'd do well to check them out the next time they grace these pastures with their presence.

Mamont's Karl Adolfsson

Mamont

Topping tonight's bill is another Swedish band, their genre of preference the same sort of doom ridden heritage rock that Kadavar profess. With some shame, I must admit to only enduring half an hour of this extremely promising act due to my recent initiation into adult life vis-à-vis the first serious full-time job, and the early awakening it requires. But the half an hour is more than sufficient to form an impression of the quartet, who specialize in a dark and moody soundscape ever-so-reliant on that most essential of the virtues of all heritage-, psychedelic- and stoner-related sub-genres: groove. Mamont have plenty of it, packed into the sort of songs that are easy to digest for fans of those styles, yet still betray enough complexity and maturity to distinguish the Swedes within what is swiftly becoming an extremely populous movement. What I like most about the songs is their intrinsic darkness and melancholy - something that sends my thoughts toward the Danish sludge/doom metal group Plöw, particularly on the first half of their "No Highness Below the Crown" LP.

Mamont's Jonathan Wårdsäter

In contrast to Mud Walk, however, Mamont are a far more serious-looking outfit, and as such offer little else in terms of visual elements than severe expressions, a dim lighting scheme, and of course a dose of headbanging. It is only appropriate that Mamont aren't so jovial given they're undoubtedly the heaviest band on the bill tonight, but I am missing some latch, some nugget of extraordinary brilliance to hold onto as I struggle to find interesting things to note down for this review. Indeed, while Mamont do have a collection of songs solid enough to entertain a live audience, they sadly lack moments that inspire those oohs and aahs that separate a good, strong showing from an unforgettable experience.

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