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July 16, 2016

Music is confrontation

Music is confrontation

Sabina Fratila
CONCERT REVIEWS

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It doesn’t help my overly rational ego to admit that I believe in happy chances, but happening upon ARViD’s home concert as my first Low-Fi gig really felt like a stroke of luck.

This young gentleman’s songwriting made me understand something about music that I’d been struggling to comprehend since forever. It was about time I’d solved that puzzle, mainly because I kind of pledged, for the foreseeable future, to write to you about music as if I really know what I am talking about. So I’ll take this opportunity to create a very long and slow-building narrative that, after a bunch of digressions, will finally disclose the point I’m trying to make here. Bear with me. 

Part of the spell that early summer evening put me under must surely have owed to the venue. Over time, the historical villa that’s known today as KW3 has housed Jewish families, Gestapo Nazis, a psychiatric practice, creative businesses, cultural events and now the first in a series of Low-Fi concerts – to name a few. Aside from the place’s history, its vibe is probably best epitomised in the winter garden – everybody’s favourite spot, I would assume. Once I got there, it didn’t take too long to see why Anne and Stine had thought it would make a fine [green]house concert venue for singer-songwriter-economist Arvid Aagaard and his musical sidekick Lars Frederiksen.

The soundcheck went by without major revelations; the guys displayed that confident shyness that gives artists the chance to seem aloof without appearing arrogant. Dorm roommates turned music act, Arvid and Lars had the bulk of their dialogue through facial expressions as they tuned their instruments – one guitar and one double bass, familiarised with the place and with their role for the next couple of hours.


"I couldn’t help but think it all resembled
your grandma’s birthday party – but in a
totally good way."

 As guests started walking in, each greeted by either Anne, Stine or the artists themselves, I couldn’t help but think it all resembled your grandma’s birthday party – but in a totally good way. It looked like your whole extended family gathered to celebrate their kin, nobody expecting it to turn into a drunken party but all happy to be there with each other. Instead of gifts for the grandma, guests offered donations that would translate into hours spent in a recording studio for Arvid and Lars.

The first song they played was the one that had lured Lars into working with Arvid in the first place. It told the story of a fire survivor who, in some of the simplest yet most effective wordplay, was hoping to start a fire in the heart of a blind woman he saved from a car accident. You could already grasp Arvid’s characteristic compulsion to dig beneath life’s big questions to find, among others, the meaning of love beyond our flesh or senses.

It doesn’t help my overly rational ego to admit that I believe in happy chances, but happening upon ARViD’s home concert as my first Low-Fi gig really felt like a stroke of luck.

This young gentleman’s songwriting made me understand something about music that I’d been struggling to comprehend since forever. It was about time I’d solved that puzzle, mainly because I kind of pledged, for the foreseeable future, to write to you about music as if I really know what I am talking about. So I’ll take this opportunity to create a very long and slow-building narrative that, after a bunch of digressions, will finally disclose the point I’m trying to make here. Bear with me. 

Part of the spell that early summer evening put me under must surely have owed to the venue. Over time, the historical villa that’s known today as KW3 has housed Jewish families, Gestapo Nazis, a psychiatric practice, creative businesses, cultural events and now the first in a series of Low-Fi concerts – to name a few. Aside from the place’s history, its vibe is probably best epitomised in the winter garden – everybody’s favourite spot, I would assume. Once I got there, it didn’t take too long to see why Anne and Stine had thought it would make a fine [green]house concert venue for singer-songwriter-economist Arvid Aagaard and his musical sidekick Lars Frederiksen.

The soundcheck went by without major revelations; the guys displayed that confident shyness that gives artists the chance to seem aloof without appearing arrogant. Dorm roommates turned music act, Arvid and Lars had the bulk of their dialogue through facial expressions as they tuned their instruments – one guitar and one double bass, familiarised with the place and with their role for the next couple of hours.


"I couldn’t help but think it all resembled
your grandma’s birthday party – but in a
totally good way."

 As guests started walking in, each greeted by either Anne, Stine or the artists themselves, I couldn’t help but think it all resembled your grandma’s birthday party – but in a totally good way. It looked like your whole extended family gathered to celebrate their kin, nobody expecting it to turn into a drunken party but all happy to be there with each other. Instead of gifts for the grandma, guests offered donations that would translate into hours spent in a recording studio for Arvid and Lars.

The first song they played was the one that had lured Lars into working with Arvid in the first place. It told the story of a fire survivor who, in some of the simplest yet most effective wordplay, was hoping to start a fire in the heart of a blind woman he saved from a car accident. You could already grasp Arvid’s characteristic compulsion to dig beneath life’s big questions to find, among others, the meaning of love beyond our flesh or senses.

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Arvid reveals his interest in deconstructing love’s complicated mechanism in a lot of his songs, and when he plays them live you can also see him gazing into something that only he can see, as if people’s emotions were floating around invisibly. He sang of different kinds of love, like the pantheistic love from “Poet set me free”, which could be summarised as getting intimate with the universe and having a very poetic Netflix and chill. Or the conflicting love in “Facing the sun”, one that has burnt itself out to let the lovers face a different sun and leave their shadows behind, but is keeping those shadows silently following them wherever they go; “I’m still in love with you” – who knows how many in the audience must have flinched at the sound of those words. 

Through all this uneasy emotional outpouring, Lars’ bass notes floated calmly and steadily, like a life jacket. If it hadn’t been for his nimble fingers making both glass walls and our bodies vibrate in a soothing rhythm, we could have easily forgotten we were physically there at all.

"Isn’t making, playing or listening to music one
of the most natural catalyst for reflection on all things human?"

Arvid reveals his interest in deconstructing love’s complicated mechanism in a lot of his songs, and when he plays them live you can also see him gazing into something that only he can see, as if people’s emotions were floating around invisibly. He sang of different kinds of love, like the pantheistic love from “Poet set me free”, which could be summarised as getting intimate with the universe and having a very poetic Netflix and chill. Or the conflicting love in “Facing the sun”, one that has burnt itself out to let the lovers face a different sun and leave their shadows behind, but is keeping those shadows silently following them wherever they go; “I’m still in love with you” – who knows how many in the audience must have flinched at the sound of those words. 

Through all this uneasy emotional outpouring, Lars’ bass notes floated calmly and steadily, like a life jacket. If it hadn’t been for his nimble fingers making both glass walls and our bodies vibrate in a soothing rhythm, we could have easily forgotten we were physically there at all.

"Isn’t making, playing or listening to music one
of the most natural catalyst for reflection on all things human?"

Another interesting side of Arvid’s view on life that we got to fathom that evening balances his passion for economics with his discontent with how society works. The “Grand machine”, as he called it, has this talent of preserving our collective cluelessness and complacency. Sure, we weren’t there to solve world hunger. Still, the harmonising voices of these two Danes hit home harder than expected, urging us to ponder, at least for almost 4 minutes, on one question: “Are we just here to die for greed, control and oil?”

Back to the love spectrum, though. One instance of Arvid’s introductory rhetorics stroke a different kind of right note for me. He talked about how love’s role is really to push us towards challenging our assumptions, our beliefs and, basically, everything in our nature that makes bigots of us all. It was his preamble to “Love is confrontation”.

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Confrontation. Long into the performance, this word kept echoing in my head. To confront the most uncomfortable realities, to question what makes us who we are, to face our vulnerabilities – that’s something we should do more of, I thought. And then, it dawned on me. Isn’t that what music is about? Isn’t making, playing or listening to music one of the most natural catalyst for reflection on all things human? Ever since I’d started paying attention to music, as a kid, when I was listening with the same sense of wonder to Chopin or Kanye West (still do), I had this question I couldn’t really answer:  “Why does music matter?” Well, that early summer evening, Arvid and Lars helped me find it. Music is vital because it makes us reconcile our fears and celebrate our fragility. Music is confrontation.

Follow ARViD on Spotify and Facebook or bring him to your living room through Low-Fi.
This review was written with the help of Miruna’s rigorous notes and refreshing perspective. Without them, this would have been a hazy summary of what my brain registered while I was, uhm, climbing walls and trees to take the pictures you’ve just looked at.

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