support Sounds Like Violence + Splitside
author TL date 28/05/09 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

As I'm sitting outside of Loppen in the free township of Christiania, I have to once again shake my head at the closedness of the Danish music scene. The bar/concert venue across from me has room for little more than 200 people, and yet within a couple of hours it will have harbored a show with one of the most accessible and internationally famous punk rock bands since Green Day, namely Anti-Flag. Last time I personally saw the band, they were headlining the Taste Of Chaos tour in 2006 in England, over bands like Taking Back Sunday. Here, there are barely enough punks loitering outside for me to think that we'll reach 200 attendees tonight. Sigh. I guess this is what happens when the state funds the countries two most popular radio channels. Outside excellence gets ignored in favor of local "quality". I know it's not in the spirit of Anti-Flag, but someone here could need a lesson or two in the values of concepts like the free market and globalization. Anyway, enough ranting about the scene and on to ranting about the venue. Tickets say that this whole show is supposed to start at 9, doors opening at 8 would then usually be implied, but alas the doors stay closed till at least somewhat past 9, and it is at least 10 before the first band comes on. This basically makes the chances of seeing the headliners and catching a train out of town before 2am slim to none.. And it's Thursday evening. Somebody make some sense of this if they can please. I'm done ranting now, I promise.


Splitside are a bunch of Swedish punks who've had the good fortune to be taken along on Anti-Flag's tour of the mainland and from the sound of them, they're probably big fan's of both their headliners and of Rancid. Especially to the latter they sound more than a little familiar, as there's little more than the addition of some subtle organ parts to set them apart. Their myspace will explain you how they've toured Europe fiercely, and so will their show, because they play it solidly enough, even in spite of the fact that their one guitarist seems to be absolutely wasted out of his mind. He could just be very strange in general, but my money is on wasted. Despite their proficiency though, watching this band perform only enhances my growing feeling that I'm getting too old for punk rock. The crowd seems politely interested at best, and my companions and I quickly decide that this band may be solid background music for having a few more brews from the bar, but nothing that's going to rock our worlds for the days to come.


Sounds Like Violence

Between the shows I have just enough time to spot a bunch of dudes in all white outfits and wonder what the hell they're all doing in a place like this, before they go on stage and I realize that they're the second band on the bill. Boy are they still out of place though, not just because of their tight white clothes and their small metro-man scarfs, but also because this band is definitely much more indie than they ever will be punk. The punkest band I'd ever compare them to would be The Hives and mostly, Franz Ferdinand would be a safer bet. This only sits well by me though, and it appears that this band is not only a boon because of their being different. This band is on to something. In terms of writing songs, they seem capable of injecting their chosen indie-rock style with catchy melodies, curious rhythms and a great understanding of quiet/loud dynamics. What more can one really ask for? It's a big step up from Splitside's safe jumping-through-the-hoops-of-standard-punk-rock that's for sure. That's why I'm also so surprised at the band's choice to take the performance far over the top with the weirdo uniforms and the somewhat strange behaviour. All but the least punk of tonights guest take care not to seem too interested because of this I suspect, and even I (who am known to wear white skinny jeans with my Iron Maiden tshirt) am thinking that this is just all a bit too much. Your music doesn't need this guys and it would be better if you took the performance a notch down and let your tunes speak for you. They speak loud enough, trust me.



Now when it comes to Anti-Flag, their performance really has to be explained in two halves to really give a full understanding of this night. First off, the band comes on before the eyes of a crowd that is naturally greatly envigorated - And as they jump into "Turncoat" straight away I bet you can imagine that the show is off to no slow start. People are jumping up and down and stumbling on and off the low stage from the get go. Something the band, who are otherwise used to large scale venues and security personnel, take with great calm. Big ups for not being a stranger to a low key punk rock show, even if Justin Sane is better dressed than pretty much everyone in the room. Off to a good start, Anti-Flag don't really take their foot of the gas as they rip through a main set of all killer and next to no filler. I'm not usually a hardcore fan of the band, but even I seem to recognize lyrics from almost every song, even if I don't remember their names, so it would seem that they're serving us hit upon hit with little space for breathing in between. "1 Trillion Dollars", "Die For You Government", "Fuck Police Brutality" - they're there in some unspecified order. Crowd surfing is going on. Frantic dancing is going on. Chris #2 jumping around while playing is going on. It looks like another good day at the Anti-Flag show, and obviously also like a damn solid show in general.

That however, is when the dudes decide to pull a very welcome bunny out of the proverbial hat. Chris #2 explains: "So this is usually where we end the show, but if you don't mind, we'd like to stick around and play a few more songs by our favourite band. A band called The Clash". Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yep, Anti-Flag rip through "I Fought The Law" and "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" to great response. That should techically have been it then, but as the bandmembers are busy thanking several fans personally for showing up, they suddenly find themselves surrounded by people on the stage. How do they handle this you ask? Well they just play three more of their own songs completely surrounded by the crowd. By completely surrounded I mean that each member of the band has guys standing so close that if someone had an erection, it might get in the way of the instrument. Get it? Anyway, let's just sum up: So you missed out on seeing Anti-Flag in pretty much the most intimate venue one can imagine, you missed out on being part of their wild crowd, you missed out on them covering the seminal now defunct The Clash and you missed out on being on stage during their un-planned encore. Should I go on? Okay, how about the fact that during the very last song, Chris #2 and Chris Head both leave the stage, walking around the back and the venue while playing, just to amuse people who are still there - and to have a chat with the merch dude? Or how about the fact that all profits made from the show are donated to the people of Christiania and their struggle with the Danish government? Have I just about conveyed the awesomeness of this show already? I hope so, because even in spite of the annoying lateness of the gig and the sound level being dangerously high for each show, this was the kind of show that everyone should really regret missing out on.


(Oh and by the way, check out this video of "Fuck Police Brutality" that our photographer Lykke shot with her camera. The sound's shitty because she's standing behind the speakers, but hey it's in HD)

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