Hoffmaestro

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author MN date 01/03/14 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Saturday the 1st of March signaled a night of new beginnings: a pay check and a well deserved weekend of partying was in order. No other group would satisfy this craving for hedonism better than Hoffmaestro, who are a group of merry Swedes that have taken their home nation by storm in the past 7 years. Counting a total of 12 members, one of Sweden's strongest live acts is always armed with contagious energy, larger than life stage presence and an affinity for surprise elements in the performance. Saturday night, Lille Vega was treated to an outstanding performance where Hoffmaestro solidified their position in my mind as one of the most fun concert experiences I have been to in my life. To those unaware, Hoffmaestro are a little undefinable in terms of genre, but lean towards ska/reggae in most compositions. I arrived at Vega around nine o' clock for the scheduled gig time and was to my surprise confronted with a largely empty auditorium. Within the next hour, the crowd started to fill out the space. Tonight's audience consisted of a great deal of Swedes who had decided to take a trip over the Øresundsbridge from Skåne for an evening out in the crazy city of Copenhagen. Denmark was also highly represented, as would be witnessed during the show later. After an hour of cocktail time, the crowd was properly liquored up and ready to receive tonight's guests.

As the preacher-like vocals of the intro rang out, the Swedes launched directly into the bouncy Ska-Punk/Reggae jammer “Round It Goes”, which already had the crowd jumping accordingly. Frontman Jerry Hoff gazed eagerly around the crowd and began to speak to the crazed audience in English. Thank god! Swedish bands have a tendency to believe that we Danes understand every Swedish word as if it were our own language. This is not necessarily true as I have stood witness to many bands that ramble on in Swedish to which the audience appear like a collective set of question marks. Jerry Hoffmaestro is a brilliant showman and a great master of ceremony. He led the crowd interaction to the dance-inducing tracks like the dubstep inspired “Out Of Luck” and the country story-time jam “Young Dad”. Jerry also ensured to give a salute to his Swedish countrymen, but also to the equal number of Danes who were present at the show.

Hoffmaestro are one of the bands that can successfully combine genres. Often crossover bands fail miserably and become either a gimmick or a novelty act, but not this group. Halfway through the set, some of the ska/reggae jams were performed and highlighted by the invigorating “My Shoes” that with its galloping rhythm during the chorus pummeled the audience into yet another smasher of a skank-fest. “Skankin-Rave” which is a self-ironic "techno-ska" jam, had the fist pumps reach the sky and the rave party commenced.

Without a doubt, tonight's highlight came in the form of “The Storm” which has become a somewhat legendary spectacle at their concerts. Jerry Hoffmaestro led the audience to collectively dance from the left part of the auditorium to the right part, which mimics the movements of a storm. To even further create the dynamics of a storm, Jerry and his co-hosts dropped down to the centre of the auditorium and did a collective “splitting of the ocean”. It was a flat-out pleasure to see a band willing to not just command the craze, but also be a part of the party.

The encore had Hoffmaestro return to the equally famous sing-a-long and carpe diem-fueled track “Seize The Day”. After an hour and 15 minutes, Hoffmaestro left the stage and the crowd went sweating and exhilarated off into the night.

I have praised Hoffmaestro to the skies in this review, but this does not mean I haven't put on the critical peripherals. Although having delivered an intense show of grandiose proportions, Hoffmaestro played a relatively short gig considering the night contained no supporting act. As one may witness, one of Hoffmaestros biggest influences is the world man and heavyweight musician Manu Chao, whose music is easily as energetic, yet he has been known to play gigs that last well over 2 hours. Hoffmaestro were 11 man strong on Saturday, could they not have provided a bit more party time for the audience? They have already set the bar relatively high by being as energetic on stage as they are, and if they are to keep the reputation of being one of the prime live acts of today, they need to remain consistent, and also challenge themselves. With that being said, Hoffmaestro was a damn good time and I eagerly anticipate a return soon, hopefully at a certain festival this summer. Heads up, Roskilde.

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