Motorpsycho

support The Vintage Caravan + Papir
author BV date 11/06/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

On this particular Wednesday evening, much seemed to indicate that vast parts of the musically interested inhabitants of Copenhagen had opted for the Copenhell experience rather than joining me at Pumpehuset. Initially deciding that Motorpsycho were not only more relevant for me, but also downright embarrassing for me to not have seen live yet, I concluded that I could miss a day of Copenhell for this particular musical adventure. – making me part of a modest, but dedicated crowd as Motorpsycho took the stage. However, let’s back things up for a minute to reflect on the support bands of the evening as well.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen

The Vintage Caravan

Billed as the first of two support bands of the night, The Vintage Caravan’s energetic, heritage-laden riff-rock was to open the proceedings. Kicking off their rowdy rock n’ roll set in front of a mere 6-8 people, it was impossible to not admire their professionalism. In spite of the poor turnout the trio thundered through a massively fast-paced set of infectious riffs, whopping bass-grooves and impeccably groovy drumming. The trio format is a tricky one to master live, and The Vintage Caravan do bear the markings of a band that has yet to become really tight. Don’t get me wrong, their overwhelming stage presence and their more than decent chops on their instruments were impressive. But when they ventured into longer, jammed out territory it would often become a total success or a complete miss. This could also be down to the fact that their songs generally bear the same characteristics. On one hand they’ve got the authenticity of the genre pretty much nailed down, but eventually the point would come where these 30 minutes of riff-based rock n’ roll were satisfactory – meaning that an inclination to play a longer set might have actually hurt the otherwise positive impact the band bestowed upon the crowd – which had expanded to consist of something like 20 people towards the end of their set. It was an admirable attempt at getting this evening started, but in some ways The Vintage Caravan was a bit misplaced in terms of what was later to come.

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Papir

Moving on to Papir, a band I find quite a lot more relevant in terms of supporting Motorpsycho, I must admit that their growing popularity is starting to show. During the brief changeover, the crowd had increased in size from 20 to 40 people, hinting at the band’s appeal. – Even during a time like this where most people had obviously opted for Copenhell. Starting their set with building one of their characteristically lush soundscapes, drummer Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen immediately commands my full attention with his forceful approach to the drumkit. Obviously, not a long time passes before my attention eventually moves on to the intertwining bass-lines and guitar-leads of Christian Becher Clausen and Nicklas Sørensen – but that’s just the great thing about instrumental bands like Papir, as one’s focus never seems to be at one person in particular. Rather, the focus is on what is being played and how each of these three individual musicians’ approaches to their instruments complement the music being created. Not long into the set, one of the bass-strings eventually breaks. What is extraordinary about this is the fact that it did not harm the soundscape or the general interplay between the members of the trio. Interestingly enough, the set was actually played through on the very same bass without even replacing the string, as some members of the audience probably noticed as their set climaxed with the wonderful “III.I”. The members of Papir don’t seem to be men of many words on stage – but that’s okay when their instrumental work speaks so clearly for them.

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Motorpsycho

Venturing up to the upstairs part of Pumpehuset, Motorpsycho’s massive stage setup was nearing completion. As the four guys took the stage in a rather anonymous, underplayed and acoustic manner, I was already questioning the immensely humongous setup of amplifiers, drums and synthesizers galore. Opening with a trio barrage of mellow acoustic strumming, smooth vocals and enticing Mellotron sound layers subtly added on top, songs like “Come on In” and “Kill Some Day” worked perfectly in creating a mood; one that would not last particularly long, however, once Motorpsycho got hold of some amplification. With a barrage of tracks like “Upstairs – Downstairs”, “On a Plate” and “Whip That Ghost”, Motorpsycho proved their vast diversity from one track to another. Nothing quite sounded the same, yet there was full presence of cohesion throughout their set. The heavier passages served as the darkness to the light of the acoustic tracks – completing the ‘push/pull’ dynamics that have come to signify everything Motorpsycho is about. With “Hell pt. 1-7” the band ventured into some eerily progressive, strangely heavy and most of all jammed out territory where the last shred of doubt concerning these musicians’ abilities on their instruments was completely obliterated. Granted, some parts of the crowd had a tough time remaining on their feet (myself included at one point) as the lengthy set held tons of space for musical exploration that wasn’t always ever-exciting.

With “Serpentine” the band reached my personal highlight of the set. The skill with which it was delivered, coupled with some of the audience reactions made it stand out completely. It might not be one of their greatest songs; not by a long shot. Yet, somehow it just got elevated well above many of the other fine tracks of the evening. As Motorpsycho closed their main part of the show with the wonderfully tripped out “Entropy” I felt completed; completed in the sense that I had finally witnessed the full-scale sonic onslaught and musical diversity that is Motorpsycho. To be entirely honest I wouldn’t have been sad if they had stopped the show there though, as the set’s runtime was nearing the 2½ hour mark.

Yet, Motorpsycho returned for three encores nonetheless; returning once more to acoustic shenanigans in the form of “Feel”. Now, “Feel” is a fantastic track and so was the live performance of it. However, I feel like I could have enjoyed it quite a bit more if it had entered the set somewhere in the middle. The same goes for “Babylon” and “Fool’s Gold” which were the remaining two encores. They’re encores for a reason though, as they were received with joyous faces, applause and a generally uplifting attitude so I can still understand and respect Motorpsycho’s decision when it comes to ending a show in such high spirits. Now that I know what I have in store, I might just go see Motorpsycho again; after all, it was a quite enlightening experience.

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