Si Hawkins travels to Aarhus, Denmark to attempt to discover the best Scandinavian talent at the SPOT showcase festival and conference - part 2
Si Hawkins
08:30 13th May 2019

Aarhus is on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula and has its own fascinating ecosystem in early May. Usually sun-kissed but with occasional monsoons, this particular Friday it’s surprisingly freezing, with reports of snow at one point: fair play to the bloke in sensible coat– Forte – who plays funky beats on the outside Trailer stage during one spell of icy rain. People still stick around.

Thankfully it’s warmer on Saturday and there’s a veritable buzz at the bigger outdoor Volume arena when the rapper from FRAADS strolls on in a balaclava - always a fun look – which is then whipped off to reveal… is that Cillian Murphy from Peaky Blinders? Probably not, unless he’s going deep-method for Christopher Nolan’s next movie.

So, who else made an indelible mark on this year’s Spot? Other Scandinavians also pop up, and Terra make an excellent punk-pop racket at HQ’s Swedish showcase, followed by an endearingly hopeful post-show announcement. “Find us on Facebook and Twitter,” says their SpokesSwede. “Maybe Tinder.”

Back in Denmark and a bunch of acts demonstrate the diverse sounds emerging from Aalborg, which is about an hour up the road. In Godsbanen’s dark Abne Scene studio, Angående Mig opens the Way Up North showcase in a memorable fashion with her Eminem hair and emotional rock. At Spot’s hugest venue, ACC, the block-rocking Farveblind rock the house with rapturously fun party beats, then the next day they’re front-and-centre at the little outdoor Trailer stage to watch fellow Aalborgers Kogekunst (say that name carefully, radio DJs).

The latter duo floods the local area with spiky feedback-heavy art-rock, although after we’ve departed they apparently blow fuses and have to finish off acoustically. Rather them than Farveblind, though. Very different unplugged outcomes.

More ups and downs: Boundaries are lauded by many beforehand but seem to have as many punters exiting as entering when we arrive. The band make a big, promising guitar sound, but then the frontman pipes up, and it’s that droney sub-Joy Division not-singing thing. Half the people we walked in with walked straight back out again.

Collider, at Voxhall, also divide opinion, but Gigwise sides with the fans: they’re the best flute-based rockers since Jethro Tull! High praise indeed. And at that same venue Athletic Progression extend Spot’s eclectic ethos: we were expecting bouncy indie but it’s cosmic jazz. And a bit self-indulgent in places, but, hey, that’s jazz for you.

There are sonic collisions on Godsbanan’s Den Ra Hal stage too, which fills the building’s boat-like atrium with exotic sounds all weekend. The Syrian ‘king of keyboards’ Rizan Said starts a big party in Saturday’s early hours, with just that keyboard and drum machine for company; although some of the well-lubricated audience’s attempts at suitable dancing are a little problematic. Then on Saturday afternoon Nanna Bech garners a more appropriate but still enthusiastic response with her mix of traditional Asian instruments and sometimes emotional between-song monologues. If only we spoke Danish.

And finally, also channelling something traditional at Godsbanen is Mari, who leaves one of Spot 2019’s deeper impressions. She plays quietly mesmerising folk songs alongside a suitably hairy guitarist, before then finishing off by beating merry heck out of a handheld drum. It’s a shame Game of Thrones is ending really; maybe that Danish fella who plays Jamie Lannister could’ve snuck her in for a pretty seamless musical cameo. Prequels are coming though, come to think of it. Hey, if Coldplay’s drummer got to play at the Red Wedding, anything can happen.

Discover part one of our SPOT 2019 coverage here.

Photo: Si Hawkins