Siamese Fighting Fish

support The Kamshaft + What Are You Like
author TL date 22/11/13 venue Templet, Lyngby, DEN

Making it to almost half a year without a Siamese Fighting Fish review must be something of a record around here, with me gradually becoming a bit of a beat reporter for the Copenhagen sextet over the years. They've been quiet for a while though, while guitarist Andreas Krüger has taken time to focus on his house music project Pacifix and with the band generally needing some downtime to build up inspiration, after gigging extensively in support of last year's "Breathe:See:Move" and having to replace former drummer Villads Berg with Joakim Stilling, making singer Mirza Radonjica and bassist Morten Jakobsen are the only remaining members from the band's original line-up. For the past two months however, the band has been busily working on new songs for a third album they hope to put out in 2014 and tonight's show at out-of-town venue Templet is hence intended as a test-airing of the new material. Before we get to hear the new tunes however, two support bands have been given the opportunity to warm us up a bit:

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What Are You Like

When I arrive at Templet, Copenhagen pop-punk trio What Are You Like has just started playing their first song, and despite the doors having been open for over an hour there are not a lot of people here to watch them. I estimate less than twenty, most of whom are hugging the bar at the back of the room. It's been two years since I saw the band's first show ever, and since then it feels like they've gotten more punk, and though inspiration from Blink 182 is still evident in their style, a number of their songs have them sounding more like a NOFX, especially when bassist Peter Espersen is singing lead. He sings most of the songs tonight, and while they occasionally change roles guitarist Christian Jakobsen mostly provides backing vocals that sound very Mark Hoppus-ish.

While the songs are delivered tightly by Jakobsen and Espersen, the set is perhaps a bit too punk in a few aspects: Drummer Sonni Sander is a new addition to the band and he seems to play a bit too fast at times and while the songs are clearly meant to be fuzzy and high-octane, the sound also lacks a bit in terms of melodiousness, which I'm not sure if it's a case of an unclear mix or simply that the band could need some new equipment. Whatever the case, the songs flow together a bit, giving the early birds some difficulties with latching onto them. Fortunately Espersen has learnt more than playing from the band's influences, as he also acts the entertainer between songs, selling jokes and song introductions with a comical talent that easily alleviates the awkwardness of the sparsely populated room, making people smile and pay more attention to the band than they probably would have otherwise. And that's the band's main accomplishment tonight actually, changing the mood in the room to a fun-filled intro to their music instead of "that support set nobody cared about". Still, for them to make lasting impressions their lyrics and melodic side needs to be more audible in future shows they play.


The Kamshaft

Another local Copenhagen quartet, The Kamshaft is a band that I'm encountering for the first time tonight and I immediately wonder why in the world they would insist on having the "The" in a name like that. Regardless of my questioning this however, they quickly launch into a set that sounds pretty convincing, coming through the sound system heavily and confidently and with elegantly moving songs. There are still not a lot of people around, but the guys look unphased by this, thanking people appropriately for showing up and rocking out in a stern, business-like manner, with especially bassist Kaspar Petersen drawing attention to himself by spending almost the whole show rocking a power stance with a grim facial expression.

For better and worse though, the band sounds A LOT like Alice In Chains, to the point where it feels like they learnt all of their considerable skills from them. Moreover, as well as the instruments come through in the mix, the vocals still don't have the clear presence (perhaps they also lack clear enough enunciation?) for anyone to easily catch onto what's being sung, which inevitably makes the set feel like a competent yet homogenous stream of AIC worship. Still, even despite this, it would've been hard in any case to make much of a night when most of the audience still has yet to show up, and something tells me that The Kamshaft has potential in them for better shows, when they manage to lure some more people out to actually see them.

Siamese Fighting Fish

While Siamese Fighting Fish may still be struggling to become a truly "big" name in Danish rock one thing that shows the progress they're making is that they're getting to the point where they can draw a crowd mostly everywhere (even if that crowd doesn't care much for support bands), because Templet all of a sudden looks decently full, with over a hundred people gathered in the room as the band takes the stage in front of their traditional labyrinth-themed backdrop. It probably has something to do with the fact that SIFIFI are a band that never stops moving on stage, with all members putting energy that fits the songs into their performance, which rubs off on an audience that starts to groove a bit and who is soon commanded to close in on the stage.

The set tonight does include four previously released tracks, with "Crap Is The New Black", "Party Like Charlie Sheen", "The World Might Have Seen Better Days" and "A Liar Cried Wolf" accommodating those in the audience that were hoping for the usual celebration that the band's shows tend to be, and each of these are of course received like old friends by an appreciative crowd. As Radonjica soon confesses however, tonight is about the new material, which we get to hear seven cuts of. Unfortunately the mix still isn't quite where it needs to be, as the band's six man setup proves too much of a challenge for Templet, which finds violinist Christian Lauritsen and guitarist Rasmus Krøyer a bit low in the soundscape, meaning that their leads drown out slightly except in intros and quieter bridge sections to the songs. That said, when you can hear them their parts sound cool, and when you can't then the heavier riffs and rhythms laid down by Krüger and Jakobsen sound pretty awesome in their own right.

The songs seem mainly of the energetic, punchy category that have become the band's trademark, making me feel like fans of the tempo of "Crap Is The New Black" in particular have lots to look forward to, while I don't get the impression that the new songs have quite the wide range between them as there was between a ballad like "Give In" and the band's raging "Scarred By Omens". Of course I might notice something differently when these end up on record but in likelihood this is a consequence of the band knowing that their bread and butter is in getting rooms like this moving, and hence they want songs that work best in that setting.

Other than that, things seem to have developed logically from the band's usual set of influences, with at least one song sounding very Agent Fresco-ish and with another recalling some of the aggression and fast-paced spitting of lyrics that Letlive stand for. I'm cursing under my breath for not getting the full picture with the violin leads and ambiant guitar properly in the mix, but at the same time appreciating the continued knack shown for excellent, crunchy chord patterns at the foundation of the soundscape. As for the rest of the audience, most look on curiously and applaud generously, seemingly grateful to hear the new stuff even though it means that they don't get to rock out to their usual favourites so much. Closing with "A Liar Cried Wolf" the band does send them off with an opportunity to do just that however, leaving most behind with satisfied smiles, and personally I'm increasingly curious to hear the band's new material again, noting the uneven mix as the main speck on tonight's otherwise spirited demonstration of it.

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