Tank and the Bangas demolishing Pumpehuset. Photos: Mihaela Yordanova
July in Copenhagen means hopes for sunshine (prayers answered this year), wondering where everyone is, avoiding tourist crowds and jazz. The last one being mostly credited to the massive Copenhagen Jazz Festival, which this year had more than 1000 events, happening all across the city, at hundreds of venues.
The Low-Fi team was a little thin due to vacations, so only the remaining troops can enjoy a concert or two at the festival. Here are some highlights and some recommendations from us who not to miss next time they are in town. Thank you, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, and specifically Fringe Jazz Fest, you make this city truly special.
Erika: James Martin Band
For a jazz noob like myself, I could not have wished to fall into a better initiation than James Martin and his band’s opening gig for Tank and the Bangas at Pumpehuset. The venue had a New Orleans theme going for the duration of the festival and the evening’s objective was to transport us to the Big Easy.
Introduced as one of the best saxophonists in New Orleans, Martin delivered a soulfully sweaty instrumental and vocal performance. I was personally impressed by his natural ability to pull the crowd progressively closer to the stage, up to the point where we were all dancing and oh so ready for the main act. All in all, James Martin is a happy discovery that definitely goes on my “to see again” list.
Delia: Athletic Progression
After you hear Athletic Progression once, you’re going to try to make a habit of it. The instrumental hip-hop trio played a concert at Balders Plads and, like always, got me scouring the hidden corners of the internet afterwards in hopes of finding some more of their music.
They’ll trigger your Flying Lotus and J Dilla detector, but in a way that is unmistakably their own and outright catchy. Have a taste of their music and most importantly, try to catch them live somewhere — the mere thought of hearing them playing in a living room is making me swoon.
Christy: Tri Minh
Departing from the main shopping street (Strøget) in Copenhagen, I turn into a large door leading into a little alleyway and walk into a quaint little apartment that is opened to the public. The place is a pop-up venue called “Neo-toner”.
The concept of Neo-toner is to focus on electronic music, combined with improvisational jazz elements. Tri Minh is the artist of the night; he walks up to the piano that is set up with all kinds of electronic devices and introduces his set. The major theme is deforestation, especially in relation to Southeast Asia. He talks about the Vietnamese belief that trees have souls and that essentially he will be playing love songs for mother nature. Tri Minh starts with a beautiful melodic song where the piano and electronic soundscapes intertwine to slowly build onto a chaotic ending. This seems to be a recurring element in his set as many of the songs start peacefully with the piano and soundscapes playing a sweet melody to later become interrupted by spontaneous explosions of noise caused by harsh strumming on the piano strings. The songs have a dystopian feeling to them, it echoes the conditions of mother nature - the peacefulness of wind flowing through the trees and the sorrows of global warming and human destruction.
His last song is dedicated to the Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, who had died near the ocean in 2015. He talks about how Vietnamese beliefs state that those who die could possibly go to a better place or be reincarnated into a better life. There are no electronic soundscapes or harsh strumming in this one, it’s a song to offer a glimpse of hope.
Mihaela: Tank and the Bangas
Oh, boy are Tank and the Bangas the BOMB, or what!!! Seriously though. They have, no doubt blasted their way right into my top 3 live acts of all time. The energy this band has is enough to power a building and it was certainly enough to blow the minds of the crowd that have gathered at Pumpehuset to see them.
The concert was part of the Fringe Jazz Fest, which is under the hat of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, but focuses on New Orleans musical tradition. New Orleans happens to also be the hometown of Tank and the Bangas and they made a point of taking the crowd on a trip to there. And oh they did.
The first time I encountered them was when they were in Copenhagen last December, after I had just seen their Tiny Desk concert. So, I already had expectations for a fun show. This time I was fully prepared for what is about to happen and even with my expectations set so high, I was not disappointed. What happens when Tank and the Bangas are on stage is kind of a magical experience. As live music, often is.