The Hedgehogs

support The Third Sound + The Mind Flowers
author BV date 07/02/14 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to catch The Hedgehogs live. Not since a charity event at Huset in Magstræde have I experienced their delightfully psychedelic, garage-rock fueled songs and as luck would have it, on this very night they were booked at one of my favorite Copenhagen venues in terms of sound, yet one I occasionally loathe due to the usually frustrating lighting, alongside a band I’ve been wanting to check out for a while, The Mind Flowers, as well as a band which I had only heard a few tracks by - The Third Sound. Apparently the event was thought out as a warm-up to Copenhagen Psych Fest and as such, I arrived at a venue filled with far more people than I had initially anticipated.

All photos by Kenny Swan

The Mind Flowers

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve wanted to check out The Mind Flowers for a decent amount of time now. - Having experienced them twice before under their previous moniker, Shogun Assassins, I was quite hopeful to see if their new name and new songs had, hopefully, turned things for the better as I was honestly not particularly fond of Shogun Assassins. From the get-go of their allotted time slot at 22:00, any speculations of mine were almost immediately laid to rest. Long gone was Shogun Assassins, as The Mind Flowers were blooming – portraying some downright good potential. Throughout their groove-laden, slightly bluesy psychedelic rock set I was positively surprised to see that a trio could sound as full as they did during tracks like “Japanese Hills” or “Down the Line”.

Ranging from chiming, tape-echo-laden guitar parts, over dynamic albeit low-key drumming and into some downright funky bass playing – this trio had everything a trio needs. - Except perhaps masterful songwriting. Positively surprised as I was, I can only state that The Mind Flowers have gotten way better. They’re not quite there yet, and the songs cannot yet be distinguished entirely from one another. However, they did pull a decent amount of people up to the front of the stage and their set had me so intrigued that I’m slowly looking forward to their upcoming single release on Levitation Records. All they need to do now is get some more experience and hone their songwriting skills. I’m sure they’ll get far better as they develop their craft, as we probably haven’t heard the fullest extent of their capabilities yet.

7

The Third Sound

An hour after The Mind Flowers had opened an evening of hallucinogenic festivities, Germany-based The Third Sound took the stage. As the five-piece started their set of droning, noise-laden downer psych I couldn’t help but notice that a sizeable crowd had gathered in front of the stage – making me think that they were probably a pretty cool live act. Four songs in, however, the repetitive droning of The Third Sound became far too much for most of the crowd to bear, as the otherwise quite packed area in front of the stage slowly cleared so I actually had a pretty clear view of the stage. However, at this point I too felt the urge to go somewhere else as the songs constantly droned on for too long, lacked detail, lacked dynamics and were generally quite flat sounding in a peculiarly muddy soundscape – as opposed to the quite crisp sound of the act that had been on right before them. It says a lot that a trio could fill up the room with explosive dynamics and a great, full sound, whilst a five piece came off as peculiarly indistinguishable – leaving me to wonder why there was even an organist on stage, for instance, as I rarely heard him play anything from where I was standing.

Granted, The Third Sound had a few redeeming passages present in tracks like “Ruby” or “Re-Elevator” where they occasionally touched upon the grace of something truly melodic and mildly catchy. These moments were, however, often overshadowed as the band constantly delved into the realms of droning repetition. It was a weird experience in all honesty. I usually like drone-rock but in a way it seemed like they lacked all the small, quirky details that usually make those lengthy, occasionally monotonous excursions work. In the words of my trusted photographer, they were indeed ”a jam band without the jamming” as their lengthy songs never really changed at all. As The Third Sound left the stage in an appropriately anonymous fashion, quite befitting of their set, some 40 minutes after they went on it was clear to see that only a select few had hung around to catch the set in its entirety – leaving me to wonder if they were having some sort of off-night or if they were just a completely misplaced booking. Either way, their set was, unfortunately, nothing special at all.

The Hedgehogs

Leaving The Third Sound’s set behind, shrugging it off, as one might say, The Hedgehogs took the stage at midnight. As they opened their set with the b-side of their newest single, “Make Me Wanna Cry”, a sizeable crowd gathered in front of the stage to take in the crunchy garage track fueled by hauntingly simple, yet evocative vocals and a fuzzy tremolo lead-guitar. Vocalist/guitarist Mads Lang Olsen was quite clearly the center of attention during the haunting, echoing vocal passages, but as things took a turn for the slightly more psychedelic the attention of the crowd was broadened out to really be able to take in all the different sounds that were going on – and there were a lot, as the seven-piece outfit contributed various textures to the soundscape – ranging from the fuzzy leads of Kasper Fjord and Morten Oliver's guitars, over the magnificently powerful drumming of Martin Pale.

As the band ventured into an old favorite of mine, “Yellow Note”, long-time fans of the band were treated to an extended, heavily psychedelic version of the track which only emphasized how much the band has developed – expanding in terms of sound each time a new member has joined, since their initial outing as a three-piece. It pleased me to hear the loose, jamming atmosphere was still alive within the garage-rock without ever jeopardizing the raw, simplistic pop-sensibility that is inherent in tunes like “Yellow Note”. Whilst the band progressed further into a wide range of new material it was also quite evident to hear that this tendency would keep going – keeping the crowd both enchanted and ecstatic at the same time as crowd movement constantly shifted from minimal movements supplemented with closed eyes in an effort to take everything in, over to a flurry of movement during the more danceable parts of the band’s repertoire. – due in significant part to Simon Berg Just’s magnificently groovy bass playing and the ludicrous coherence of the band as a unit – meaning that the jams were incredibly loose but the band never really lost track of the form.

With “Your Eyes”, the mood quickly evolved into something bitterly melancholic, initially stopping most forms of dancing - effectively shifting both the band and the crowd into a more stoic, thoughtful position wherein all the different sonic impressions could really be absorbed. This didn’t last long, however, as the band soon kicked themselves right into the other track off of their new single ,“Can’t Find Myself”, which had the crowd bouncing around to its infectious, up-tempo drumming and the catchy-as-fuck organ melody line. The track sounded downright massive whilst supported by no less than three guitar players who really added a powerful, ‘in your face’ sound to the whole damn thing.

As The Hedgehogs rounded off their 60 minute set with another new, quite promising track, I found myself reassured that these guys really do seem to get better and better. They might seem incredibly over the top with 6, occasionally 7, members but when the soundscape is as full and dynamic as last night’s performance at Loppen, the size of the band is not really something you could, or should, hold against them. In essence, The Hedgehogs know exactly how to keep the psychedelic grooves going and they have effectively gotten me far more interested in seeing them once again at the upcoming Copenhagen Psych Fest.

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