It was just about a week ago when we sat around the lunch table that we (Yannick and Stein) suddenly got the opportunity to travel to Denmark for the Spot festival. Due to cancellations of two Incubate colleagues we got asked to go to the showcase festival to spot (ha!) new acts for the following edition of Incubate. So head over heels, excited but with little preparation time, we set to what was supposed to be our first festival as “professionals”.
The Spot festival primarily focusses on new Danish and Nordic acts with ambition and potential. A huge opportunity to find new acts because of the current position of Scandinavian music scene. Incubate already booked quite a few Scandinavian bands, and especially a few Danish bands: Iceage, War, Lower and De Høje Hæle.
So after a twelve-hour bus drive, two movies and an entire season of The Simpsons we arrived Thursday evening in Aarhus. Yesterday (Friday) our musical voyage really started with the first day of the festival, this is what we experienced:
Our first act of the day was the collaboration between Sóley and Danish rock duo Darkness Falls. We never heard much of Darkness Falls before, and heard too much about Sóley (especially from a certain someone of the Incubate-staff), so were excited to see how this would unfold. After the presenter babbled some whipping words in Danish, Sóley and comrades opened our festival.
Soon after that it became clear that Sóley exceeded in about everything over her Danish peers. The vocals of the Icelandic songstress were way better than those of her Danish counterpart. And where the Icelandic accent made it sweet, the Danish pronunciation was really off sometimes. It almost felt like Darkness Falls was supporting a Sólo-y act, which wasn’t bad a thing. To see the normally naked and fragile folk tunes dressed up with the atmospheric sound of DF was great. But the word ‘collaboration’ was to widely taken, as the acts took turns in playing each other songs. Luckily the whole thing got saved by the international stature of Sóley.
The second show what we saw yesterday was definitely one the highlights of the day. With the Super8 music video of the splendid single “Greenland” we had high expectations of the show of Anna Katrin Egilstrøð aka AKAT. Bluntly you can say that AKAT is pretty similar to Incu11-artist Esben And The Witch. But let’s face it; this show was way more exciting. The cool thing was that they were doing a lot live; hiphop beats were played live with a keyboard and looped at the same time, and especially the combination of the electronic beats and the acoustic instruments (cello, piano) was cool. Also the live vocals of Anna were pretty good. If we have to say something negative about this performances it is that with less than 25 minutes it was a bit short. We know, it’s a showcase festival, but still, she only did her four songs (and maybe a new interlude) from her EP that she released in December 2010. So we’re really eager to hear some new work from her.
After their debut album Love And Nature from 2010 we were pretty curious to see the three Finish girls of LCMDF live. Sadly enough the expectations were not lived up to and we can blame most of it to the new songs. On their first record the songs are pretty poppy, but still they had a kind of weird/arty twist. On the new songs the balance is more to poppy and we couldn’t discover the arty side of it. And while the drummer did a good job and the unexperienced guitar player (who had actually a better voice than the main vocalist) didn’t do a bad job either, the vocalist was most of the time pretty annoying. Her unpleasant habit to look everybody constantly in the eye and her need of proving her self as a good singer (that sometimes result in almost Mariah Carey-like singing) makes that this performance isn’t that nice to watch.
Around the start of the evening Spot festival finally got a little crowded. A good thing for the festival, a bad thing for the visitors because of the waiting lines that arose. And so it happened that we missed the Slayer Big Band project and stumbled upon Incubate 2011 Meneo who was performing outside. One man, one Gameboy and one mic, combined with a good amount of showmanship made the act worth while to see. It’s kinda hard to describe the whole scene, but I guess the combination of appealing and obnoxious comes closest. Just see for yourself, belows is his trademark song; Tiger Woods is gay.
One of the most hyped bands from this festival day was definitely Waldo & Marsha. A group of eight really young lads who make something that you probably can describe as ‘shoegaze lite’. Luckily we finally can say that this band is worth the hype. Good songs, stunning melodies and because of the five guitar players (including one bass player) they really had a ‘wall of sound’. But besides these positive things, maybe it’s good to wait just a moment with travelling to the rest of Europe right away to become ‘the next big thing’.
Why? Well.. there are still some things that they have to take care of. First of all eight people on stage seems to be a bit too distractive. If you kicked out two guitar players probably no one would notice. The vocals weren’t that clear. And what we’ve heard earlier on the two EPs; they’ve got a few hit single, but still not all the songs are of that quality. Our advice; just don’t rush things and go back to the rehearsal room to make a few extra good songs so that the debut record can fulfill all of our dreams.
But never the less; these kids know what they are doing. A lot of neo-shoegaze bands (For instance A Pains Of Being Pure At Heart) are drowning in reverb and forget to make good songs. Waldo & Marsha sound more ‘organic’ or ‘naturel’. At the good moments they’re sounding mesmerizing, dreamy and almost in a kind of trance. Just give these kids a couple of years (when they’re finally allowed to drink beer in the USA) and then hopefully we’re gonna hear a stunning album.
One of the bands mentioned in our Incubate Scene Report: Copenhagen so whilst we were still around, it was worthwhile checking them out. Even if that ment that we would miss upcoming Danish band Ulige Numre. Keith Canisius records solo, but live he is supported by The Holy Dreamers. I didn’t really knew what to do at their live show, their music is dreamy and relaxing but the performance was intensive and filled with energy. So I ended up with nodding my head while keeping my restless feet in check.
Before this festival we checked the music from this Danish guy Carl Emil and we found out that this is really cool. For instance Eskimous On Lava, a track which wouldn’t be weird if it would be released on the Ghostly record label. But of course with this kind of music you always have to wait and see how it is live. And unfortunately it didn’t work out perfectly. Just a pale gawk who was pressing some buttons on his samplepad/drumcomputer. By using visuals, who were actually pretty cool, they tried to make this performances a bit more exciting, but still after a few songs we left. Pretty good for your iPod (looking forward to his debut album!), but a recommendation to go to his live show? No.
One of the few ‘settled’ acts on the bill of Spot festival, also one more famous bands in Denmark. Probably the reason why they drew so many people to the Musikhuset concert hall. After waiting 20 minutes in line we could finally get in to see a good chunk of their performance. Their performance was solid and professional, but in my humble opinion, I found it kinda dull with a lack of outliers. But anyway, if you want to see them live in the Netherlands, you can see them for FREE! in Burgerweeshuis May 23.
We noticed that the evening was ending, but there was still one last ‘suprise’-act; Spleen United. Because we couldn’t check them out before the festival it was a bit surprising what we were going to see. It turned out that the band is pretty famous in Denmark, but probably is going to stay their own country. The music is what we’ve heard many times before; electro-rock with live synths, drums and (sometimes) vocals. We’ve heard the sounds, 808 drumsounds and sawsynths, many times before (for instance from our Belgium neighbours of Goose), so it wasn’t innovative at all. But we have to admit; with what they were doing, they were doing it pretty good. Just set your mind to zero, drink a beer and have fun seems to be the key to enjoy a gig like this. But still, after a few songs you really notice the ‘tricks’ that the band is pulling; the same structure of the songs all the time, the same ‘kicksnare’-drums with a 4/4 rhythm and of course the lousy lyrics (Most of the used words are: ‘Everybody’, ‘Right now’, ‘Night and Day’).
Probably the best performance of the Friday, The Megaphonic Thrift went all out and totally blew away the crowd with controlled noise, mind-blowing guitars and pulsating drums (as you can see in the first photo). On top of that a wide range of vocals from sweet to sour. A band that already got noticed at SXSW in 2010, but who are really breaking through the last glass ceiling with their latest album, that got top marks in the Danish charts.
So that was it for day one, as we’re writing this we are already preparing for day two. We are going to check out Prinspóló, Rangleklods, Mads Björn and Incubate 2012 artist Nils Frahm in collaboration with Marybell Katastrophy to a name a few.
Photo’s by: Tom Roelofs