Incubate Scene Report: Copenhagen

March 20, 2012

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and is the city with the most inhabitants of the whole country.With more than a million citizens, it’s more than likely that at least a few people get together to make great music. In the past a few bands from Copenhagen have made it ‘big’. Acts like The Raveonettes, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour or Alphabeat have played in the Netherlands more than once and have been sure to gain some media attention.

Bands from Copenhagen haven’t been strangers for Incubate either, in the earlier editions we had: Die Weisse Rose, Gud er Kvinde, Of The Wand And The Moon, Obstacles, Thulebasen, Sleep Party People, Pinkunoizu, Girlseeker and Iceage(to bad it got cancelled).

But lately more names have been seeping through the blogosphere. There is the shoegaze-y bunny’s from Sleep Party People, who with an upcoming release are sure to catch the attention of a broader audience. Also the young punks from Iceage have been making quite a name for themselves. With their 2011 release ‘New Brigade’ and energetic live shows, they have shown that they are more than capable. More recently When Saints Go Machine seem to be heading into the right direction. And as it mostly is with good bands: there is a lot more where they came from.

Parix by When Saints Go Machine

Since I’ve never been in Copenhagen it’s hard to say what the atmosphere is like. Or what neighbourhoods are definitely worth checking out. I can’t tell you which bars and venues are the best, but for that information you can also buy a travel guide. During my research I have been able to divide the Copenhagen musicscene in smaller bite-able chunks.

There seems to be a really vibrant punk/doom/metal scene in Copenhagen. With Iceage as one of the biggest names this moment. These guys seem to be part of a much larger scene in their hometown. Mostly being really underground and DIY, it’s hard to find any virtual information about this.

There are a few labels that seem to focus on this scene. For example Posh Isolation. They run a small store from a basement, which is only open on Fridays and upon request. They sell limited releases. Not every artist they release is easy to find. One of the more bleak and nihilistic artist they release is Damien Dubrovnik.

A bigger label running from Copenhagen is Escho, setting up shows and releasing music for a lot of local bands. At the end of March they will release a 7” for Lower a hard-hitting punkrock outfit in the same vein as Iceage.
Also the Copenhagen-based record label/zine Dogmeat covers a lot of what’s going on inside Copenhagen’s darkest underground.

Dogmeat curated their own DANISH PUNK FUCK YOU showcase at the Distortion Festival last year, this was covered by Altered Zones and is a good read to find more about the local punk scene and bands. Within this scene there is also Sexdrome, harsh noise-punk. One of the members of Sexdrome (who also co-runs Posh Isolation) teamed up with the Iceage frontman to form War, whom are being released on Sacred Bones. War’s sound is hard to describe, but Sacred Bones manages to give it a good try: “lo-fi post-apocalyptic punk dirge and early Chicago house music”. Definitely worth checking out!
There is a lot more going on than can fit in one post, so some other interesting bands to check out are: Girlseeker, Nightfever, and Pagan Youth. Watch the following film to get a got impression of Distortion Festival and the atmosphere.

Besides all this dark and disturbing sounds, Copenhagen also has a brighter side. There’s a large number of indie bands. There is a lot of alternative folk/post-rock influenced music. With a band like Efterklang being one of the bigger. There is a lot of interesting music surfacing at this moment. One of the more interesting labels in this genre is It Was Gnarled, run by the 21-year old Jesper Hviid. The label features only two bands, but they are a good example of what’s going on within this scene. The first band is Hunch Bettors, a four-piece with folky post-rock tunes, definitely a band to keep an eye on. The second band is indiepop outfit With No Arms and Legs. Up-beat songs for fans of a more positive-sounding Arcade Fire. Also check out: Treefight for Sunlight and Dad Rocks!.

When it comes to more dreamlike bands, shoegazing and freaking their way to our ears then the most interesting examples are probably Sleep Party People and Pinkunoizu. The first is a band around songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Batz. With his effected and filtered vocals, layered guitars and slow-but-steady rhythm they have gained a lot of praise and played multiple festivals and venues in Holland. Pinkunoizu are more up-tempo and freaked-out. Really shoegazing, as they play very large pedal boards. Weird rhythms and crazy guitar sounds combine into something mesmerizing and hypnotizing. Both bands are touring together at the moment and will attend the Netherlands 3 times, once in the 013 in Tilburg.

There is also room for some more noisy/experimental/alternative music. The Copenhagen-based label Red Tape has a large roster of Copenhagen bands, be sure to sneak a peek, but not everything is equally interesting. The band that really caught my attention on this label is the awesome-but-weird Governor of Alaska. It’s instrumental music with tribal drums and noisy guitars.

Jewish Girls by Governor of Alaska

Thulebasen is one of the most interesting bands from Copenhagen, psychedelic songs that can range up to ten minutes. They also played on Incubate in 2010. Thulebasen are connected with a lot of bands in Copenhagen. Having also released material on Tambourhinoceros, just as Iceage and Treefight For Sunlight. The singer of Thulebasen also owns the label Escho, which has been mentioned above. They are currently recording near Joshua Tree.

Be sure to check out some of the stuff on Pad & Pen Records, which ranges from noise to dreampop. HIGHLY recommended are: The Beardy Durfs, Mimas and Keith Canisius.

This post can’t even begin to capture all the interesting, beautiful, weird and creative stuff that’s going on in København. There is so, so, so much more.

Please add any names that you think are missing in the comments below. The more, the merrier. If you’ve got any recommendations for festivals or venues to attend when in Copenhagen, please tell us!

 If you think any of these bands can’t be missed on Incubate Festival 2012, you can add them to the thread for line-up tips here.


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