Pianos Become The Teeth

support Kräftbarn + Solbrud + viceversa + The Day We Left Earth + Hexis + Suis La Lune
author PP date 09/04/11 venue Kraftwerket, Valby, DEN

When I signed up to interview Pianos Become The Teeth and subsequently review their show on a Saturday night, I didn't realize it also involved hanging out at Kraftwerket, the basement venue in Valby, Copenhagen, for about seven hours. Tonight is some sort of collaboration between several different booking agencies that have brought together a grand total of seven bands. A cool idea on paper, sure, but in practice it's a nightmare for any curious soul who makes it a point to always watch support bands when he heads to a show (read: me). With the headliner going on stage close to 2am in the morning, one of the two scenarios is going to happen, if not both: either you're going to be in a rather intoxicated state, or your legs will be hurting (no seats at the venue anywhere). Nevertheless, myself and a friend soldiered through the night which saw the crowd change rather frequently as young bands brought their fanbases along who didn't care to check out anyone else but their friends, but hey, such is life in the Copenhagen underground.


Tonight's opening slot landed on the Kolding-based rage punkers Kräftbarn. In case you're wondering what rage punk is, I just coined the term on the spot to describe bands like Kräftbarn, who draw from old school hardcore punk as well as from the Ungdomshuset politics and look as the main source of inspiration for their style. So their vocalist is sporting a St. Pauli hoodie as is stereotypically the case with people associated from this scene, and their short songs sound like very amateurish interpretations of the lightning speed punk/hardcore bursts of fury from the old days. Lets just say that their musical contribution to the scene is almost non-existent, but yet you can't take anything away from their aggressive, in-your-face type of show which clearly sees the whole band pour their hearts into the performance. It's very underground and very DIY - the vocalist has the setlist written down on the back of a Pizza box which he glances at after each song - which is fine to watch, but selling more than two dozens CDs based on their sound alone is going to be a serious issue. Though I suspect that they couldn't care in the slightest.



So if Kräftbarn's show is best characterized as an underground DIY punk show in a basement, it takes but a minute for melodic black metallers Solbrud to transform the whole venue into a black metal cave. They've surrounded themselves with thick white candles all around for some evil black metal imagery, which is a nice touch that instantly makes Solbrud's performance feel more convincing. Especially when they are coupled with a brooding soundscape brought by lengthy tremolo sequences that slowly morph into slower, melodic lulls. The structure of their material is outstanding, revealing a significant amount of thought and analysis that has gone into creating an enthralling and all-encompassing atmosphere that echoes around the walls of the venue and out to the streets of Valby. The vampires are coming, folks, be very, very afraid.

Jokes aside, the crowd is extremely confused in the beginning. A couple of emo/scene-dressed girls that sound like they're from Sweden are so puzzled by what they are witnessing that they find no other solution than to walk with blank looks on their faces to the toilet and back to fix their hair - repeatedly, I might add - simply because they are just so far outside their comfort zone musically that they don't know what else to do. But slowly, the crowd acclimatises to the fact that no eye contact will be made whatsoever during the show as the band hangs their heads down low, and slow nods of head start appearing in unison across the venue. This is yet another small detail that makes all the difference in the world in Solbrud's black metal imagery tonight, one that only those of us into black metal notice and truly appreciate.



A polar opposite genre per show seems to be the theme of the day, as the third band we witness tonight is Kolding-based screamo group viceversa. They play a brand of chaotic post-hardcore/screamo from the old days when screamo bands were judged on how fierce, intense and audibly/visibly passionate they are. These are all words that apply to viceversa tonight, with their two vocalists sparing no casualties crashing into the crowd, each other, and the guitarists, subsequently falling down to the ground where they continue to scream in agony - with or without microphone, it seems. Tonight is their last show ever, so they've brought a considerable fan base with them who join in the third microphone to scream their lungs off. What happens next is something I'm still totally confused about. First, their vocalist announces its their last show, and deals a lengthy round of insults to their old drummer who apparently left the band hanging for this show only a few hours before the doors. Then instruments start flying. The guitars and bass are being smashed into walls and into the ground - all the while the screamers continue the song crowd-surfing on a small part of the crowd hitting against the ceiling - and everything, literally everything is smashed into unrecognizable little pieces that were once instruments. Apparently this is what happens when old school screamo passion pours over and results into hard feelings between band members and their instruments.


The Day We Left Earth

At this point I was halfway expecting the next band to transform the atmosphere inside Kraftwerket for the fourth time tonight, and I wasn't wrong. The Day We Left Earth is a brand new post-rock band from Copenhagen, whose epic, climaxing expression is beautifully layered and detailed throughout. They don't bring that much new into the post-rock scene which is flourishing (and quickly saturating at the moment), but they are quite good at their trade. The problem tonight, however, is that the claustrophobic confines of the tiny venue hinders the full expansion of their sound into majestic heights like I'm sure is the meaning on record, and in future live shows. It's clear that they would benefit immensely from one of the open-ended tents at Roskilde Festival for the listener to even start grasping the full experience of their sound, so tonight it feels smaller and less impressive than, say, the black metallers earlier during the night. It lacks a similar hypnotizing effect that would keep the listener on his toes the whole time. That said, there is an occasional sublime progression into a magnificent climax where the whole band moves in unison. That's exactly what we want to see from this band, but it's not enough to impress this scribe at this particular venue.



"Come closer" asks the Hexis vocalist. I shouldn't have listened, because the band launches into an overwhelming barrage of heavy, sludgy metal and hardcore blended together. People have told me they are critically acclaimed on record, which may very well be the case, but today the sound is so muddy, unclear and ordinary noise/black metal that the songs don't stick out at all, instead blending together into one insanely loud and indecipherable mess. Hence, the curious crowd disperses after a song or two, though whether this was of the band's own doing or because the smoke machine clouded the entire room is of course debatable. Synchronized head banging and an exceptionally energetic vocalist save the song from an absolute disaster: the latter kneels into the crowd, releasing his loud roars from beneath us, and then retreats back before crowd-surfing his way out (while still growling) of the stage area moments later.


Suis La Lune

Suis La Lune from Stockholm, Sweden are the first international name on the bill today, which you can tell both from the sheer quality of their light, mathy soundscapes and the suddenly intensified crowd interest as soon as the band hops on stage. A slow, melodic intro track kicks things off and progresses louder and louder while becoming more detailed in the process in the best post-rock manner, before the music pauses and into original screamo we go. From the usage of eerie post-rock melodies and the faded back but fierce lead screams, it's easy to deduce why Suis La Lune is the band of choice for Pianos Become The Teeth on their European tour. The sound is again a massive problem though leaving the vocals weak in the mix, so there's almost no audible strength in otherwise passionate and interesting songs. By interesting I mean things like slow, quiet lulls that evolve into climactic scream fests quickly but coherently without sounding like two completely disjointed parts of the same song. There's an introverted, somewhat tame feeling to their show given the closely knit semi-circle formation directed towards their drummer, but it's starting to be really late and my guess is the band is as tired as the crowd around them, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, because the material is really good.

Pianos Become The Teeth

The clock strikes 2am, and we've officially been here for seven hours (including the interview before the show). But suddenly all the wait is worth it as Pianos Become The Teeth take over the stage and in an instant demonstrate just how much better they are than anyone else tonight. They display a frenzied sense of intensity during the set, where vocalist Kyle turns his back at the crowd and the band forms a similar semi-circle as Suis La Lune just before. The border between the crowd and the band blurs, as bodies start moving to their ethereal post-hardcore / screamo compositions which sparkle from mathy passages and post-rock-like climaxes. The crowd, just like myself, feels like it just woke up from a coma, and the (admittedly few) people still left at the venue go nuts. The intensity, the passion, the execution of Pianos Become The Teeth is something else tonight. It's a culmination of a long wait and an exciting album that people are eager to hear live that make the difference tonight. Though the vocals are regrettably low in the mix, it's still a spectacle to watch how effortlessly the band induces the crowd to crazily move in unison with them. The set is short-and-sweet, which we are all thankful of, but not devoid of ferocious screaming passages, singer crowd-surfing against the ceiling, and other memorable moments that set this show apart from the other ones we've seen today. Great stuff, totally worth the extensive waiting time.

Photo credit: Rasmus Ejlersen

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