Si Hawkins reports on his travels to scope out Scandinavia's best new music
Si Hawkins
14:30 9th May 2019

It begins in the farthest corners. Gigwise is perched up in the gods at Aarhus’ answer to the Royal Festival Hall, Musikhuset, as an epic scene unfolds below.

A defiantly dorky-looking band called The Entrepreneurs reach such a peak of guitar goodness that the kids in the front corner seats eventually decide I JUST CAN’T BLOODY SIT DOWN ANY MORE so leap to their feet and start thrashing around wildly, which makes everyone behind them do something similar, then a girl in the third row makes a sweeping GET UP YOU F*CKERS! gesture to everyone else and the whole place erupts. In a good way.

However many years you’ve come to Spot – and it’s been running for 25 now – something new will always smack you slap-bang in the musical solar-plexus. This beautifully-run city fest is where Denmark’s new stars take flight, and there are stages for every conceivable size, shape and style of act. The Entrepreneurs, for example, are not a band you’d automatically thrust into a big posh concert hall, but their Nordic take on 90s US shoegaze is sensational tonight. They are Daneosaur Jr.

The closeness of most venues in Denmark’s second city means you can really mix up your styles, within minutes. Immediately before that show we’d caught some damn good tech-house at the compact club Radar, and before that came the acid-tongued rapper Sharon Kumaraswamy, of the duo Ravi Kuma, who arguably create even more audience bedlam than the Entrepreneurs in the converted conference centre, ACC, on a call-and-response tip.

Will the contagious quality of these tracks work elsewhere? Well, when you get the previously sober-looking Danish dude next to me chanting “STOP STARING AT MY DICK!” over and over, you’ve probably hit on something.

There are more sedate sounds and stories along the way. Back at Musikhuset, Hjalte Ross and band make a blissfully evocative early-seventies folk-rock thrum. It turns out that Ross actually worked with Nick Drake’s old producer, John Wood, who even stayed at his folks’ house while they crafted his debut album, Embody. Now that’s how to nail a sound.

Also indebted to a late legend is Niklas Runge, squeezed onto the HQ club’s compact stage. “Are you ready for some fragile and honest music?” asks the compere, to which the only appropriate response is of course ‘nah.’ But actually Runge – tall, handsome, like a too-nice-to-be-brilliant Danish central defender - turns out to be decidedly non-flaky.

His band sound big-stage-ready, in fact, and while Runge may be overly indebted to Jeff Buckley, he’s charming and evidently popular with punters young and old. It might just be time for the Jutland Buckley.

Discover part two of Si Hawkins' SPOT review here

Photo: The Entrepreneurs by Tricia Yourkevich