Most people who know me also know that I like concerts, and the majority have also learned that more than often it’ll be bands they’ve never heard of, so by now they either don’t hazard asking or have mastered the polite but slightly unconvinced a-ha followed by a shy smile. Occasionally, though, I surprise even myself with something truly otherworldly. Strangely enough the last such instance I can clearly remember was the Buddhist noise metal band playing in the same small room in Dürer Kert, so maybe there’s something to the aura of that place.
Returning to our present situation though, sometime earlier in the year I chanced upon a recommendation, might have been by The Line of Best Fit, and I noticed that the song is called Copenhagen, by Danish band First Hate. I am always very intrigued by songs named after cities, trying to find out whether they capture the actual feel of the place, and I guess locals are in the best position to write really good ones- or perhaps not necessarily, but this philosophical discussion might be too thorny to be breached right now. Nevertheless, Copenhagen the song passed the test with flying colours, an electro pop tune which doses bubble gum lightness with darker undercurrents (there’s an Ian Curtis voice involved and it helps with the angst). I often prefer the Danes when it comes to indie pop- the Swedes are just ridiculously and incongruously happy whereas the Norwegians, well, they occasionally burn churches. (Iceland has BJÖRK and is thus beyond the realms of normal human existence).
Energized by the vibes of Copenhagen, I then listened to the entire album it belongs to, A Prayer for the Unemployed, which is the band’s first full length release and fairly impressive as such. I must totally agree with the oft maligned Pitchfork on this one- they are delicately hovering on that already hinted to edge between ridiculously catchy pop with a future mainstream appeal (the one that sadly made MØ considerably less cool than before The Age of Lazer) and the trickier Euro electro-indie which generally remains a niche enjoyment.
With a fleshier arrangement a tune like Lonely Orbit would be a guaranteed chart topper and/or Eurovision winner. It would however also lose its odd charm, that DIY honesty of two guys popping up onto a flimsy stage from among a local crowd of about fifty electro-goths in black parkas (Joachim on keyboards was wearing a black parka too, to make it all even more confusing) and then bantering about the ridiculousness of gigs on Mondays, and true to form, Dürer did look overall deserted except for our small room. To be honest I half expected them to emerge from the sides of the tiny stage, because I know something IS there as this room happened to have been my faculty’s buffet back in the day when Dürer was a university campus, and the lady used to prepare the most mysterious meal in the universe (the Hungarian melegszendvics, hot sandwich, still an unsolved enigma to me) backstage.
But they approached the stage from the crowd, just as their opening act had done- and yes, I both watched the opening act and have some pictures of him too, constantly working towards the best version of me I can be. Grand Prix, a Dane as well, took to the stage alone, sang and danced with what I can only call moves like Bowie- he looked slightly like the great man as well, and the whole concert had a space oddity vibe to it, so something of a very muted success then, I would say. Strangely enough First Hate’s singer also has them moves like Bowie when dancing. That is progress, though, as it transpired that we’d seen them before, as an opening act for Trentemøller, and recalled them as decidedly static- and lacking the punch of their new songs. So, your top tip if clubbing in Copenhagen is to do a David Bowie impersonation, with the odd hint of Ian Curtis. First Hate becoming a bigger sensation in the near future is another top tip, but about this I am torn: every now and then it just feels good to go to a really small gig with really big vibes.
PS: Further evidence that Danes are lovely people: not only did they let us flash them with our mobiles, they actually invited us to do it. All you snobby artists and your live the moment discourse: it’s time we embraced the future