City Of Ships

support Valerian Swing + The Day We Left Earth
author PP date 10/06/11 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

With the same owners behind the recently opened KB18 venue in the trendy meat packing district of Copenhagen as in the old Lades Kælder, the set times are often flexible, as the venue likes to wait until enough people have entered so no band has to play in front of a completely empty room. It's a noble cause, because tonight The Day We Left Earth would've had to play for all of five people had they started at the originally planned 21:30 timeslot. By the end of the night I remember counting at most thirty, maybe thirty five people at the venue, which is a disgrace and should be criminalized for a band as good as City Of Ships...especially thinking about the sold-out The Rock performance last week by Black Veil Brides. Oh, the injustice of the world today.

The Day We Left Earth

The first band of the night are the local post-rockers The Day We Left Earth, a band that seems to be playing everywhere at the moment. From what I've been told they're one of those perfectionist groups who spent a significant chunk of time writing and rehearsing for their debut release before entering the live circuit of Copenhagen and beyond. And based on their sound tonight, it shows. Their eerie post-rock has all the big build ups, soaring melodies, crashing cymbals and all the good stuff from the genre, honed and developed to a level where, in my opinion, it is starting to be capable of standing on even footing with the big international names. Last time I caught them live their sound suffered from the tight confines of KraftWerket, never reaching the kind of grandeur it is clearly capable of, but tonight is a different story. The wide and open spaces of KB18 compliment their sound, giving it more space to resonate beautifully and echo from the walls, where especially the loud sound explosions from quiet lulls are stunning.

During these moments I have no doubt in my mind that The Day We Left Earth might just be the best post-rock band in Denmark right now, and when they spice up their stage show with their effects-guy sitting down in front of the stage with a snare drum while the bassist uses a violin stick (or whatever the fuck it's called) to play his instrument, the entertainment value is present as well. There's little interaction with the crowd other than that, but that's good, it fits in with their music tonight. It's a shame though that my perception of their performance diminishes a little with the frankly irritating sample of a child speaking/singing on the background - it does nothing but damage to an otherwise good song.


Valerian Swing

Valerian Swing are a strange, strange outfit. Their music can probably be classified as experimental math rock, but it goes much further than that by exploring jazz, post-rock, electronics and psychedelic instrumentalism, often all at the same time. The focal point of the outfit is their vocalist/guitarist, who appears to have even more effects panels for his guitar than Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta. These are used to create live recordings of mathy loops that he then proceeds to use as parts of his songs, which in turn vary between the extremely strange and random stop-start sequences, it seems. Most people seem to appreciate the mathy melodies at first, albeit with a rather puzzled look on their faces.

It's a very technological set as much time is spent on simply adjusting the dozens upon dozens of switches and pedals both pre and during songs, but some of this is made up for by the crazy rocking out of their bassist, who makes good use of the elevated speaker to the side of the stage to provide some visual entertainment for the crowd. There is some good all around movement from all three members in the band, though, when their guitarist isn't busy changing the effect panels; it's safe to say that this is guitar experimentation at its most ambitious state. The music shifts between mellow lulls and crazed frenetic moments, and occasionally the band gets just the right combo of energy and tranquil melody to sound superb. Unfortunately, this happens way too seldom in a waaaaaaayyyyyyy toooooooooo loooooooooooong set, which causes the crowd to thin out the longer they play. The reason is clear: this stuff is very interesting at first, but it's way too drawn out and kind of boring towards the end to just watch one guy play with his brand new toys.

City Of Ships

The clock has advanced well beyond midnight before City Of Ships finally take the stage, a good hour and a half later than most people had expected, and as such, the attendance is criminally low. A quick head count proves that only approximately 25 people are present to witness one of the most talented and promising progressive rock / post-hardcore hybrids play, leading this scribe to (again) question the musical taste of people at large in Copenhagen. But the band are used to low turn outs on this tour, so their performance is still convincing and impassioned, if a little static, but that's always been the case for the band. What they are normally able to do is to create a great dynamic of intensity between the crowd and the band through their ambient aggression and introspective melodies. That just doesn't happen tonight because there's simply too much space at an empty venue, so that dimension of their set is missing almost entirely. It doesn't remove anything from how awesome a song like "Wraiths In Flight" sounds live, even though the clean vocals are almost non-existent in the mix (a problem which seems to have followed the venue from their Lades years).

That isn't the only sound problem tonight, however, because the drums are over-represented in the mix, leaving especially the quieter guitar nuances pretty much impossible to hear. That is, if you don't know the songs from beforehand, which I imagine is the case for many curious onlookers tonight. The screams, on the other hand, are voluminous and powerful, but overall it's difficult to enjoy the set because of the imbalances in sound, and the complete lack of support from the rock/metal/hardcore scene of Copenhagen today. It's just that much more difficult to pull off a great performance with 25 people watching in a venue which can probably house 250-300 people based on a rough estimate.


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