Live gig review by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
With the dark winter evenings now noticeably upon us, where better to shelter from the elements on this particularly wet and blustery Friday night than in the Voodoo Lounge on Arran Quay? As dark within as it is without; tonight the venue hosts not one, but four acts; headlined by Swedish quintet In Solitude.
An early start for the solo opening performance by Daniel Bay, followed by Dublin doom metal band Venus Sleeps means that we arrive just in time to catch Finnish post punk act Beastmilk. Judging by overheard conversations between some of the Voodoo Lounge regulars, it seems that many of them have come primarily to see this; Beastmilk’s first Irish show. There is a sense of excitement in the air, albeit overpowered by the pungent and unexpected aroma of incense.
After making their way through the front ranks of the bustling barflies to their positions onstage, the Finns waste no time, kicking off their fifty minute set including the majority of tracks from their catalogue which consists of their 2013 debut full-length album Climax and a couple of Demo/EPs. A nineties’ “big-screen” tube television is set beside the drumkit, adorned with a hand-painted Beastmilk logo on the glass. We assume it is to be used for some cool video graphics to accompany the music, but instead it is used as a podium for one of the guitarists to perch upon occasionally. At least a decade older than the TV are the denim and leather-clad rockers in the front row, who prove that they know their shit by singing along enthusiastically while British-born frontman Kvohst delivers his lyrics with passion and dramatic emphasis. It is a performance that is apparently enjoyed as much by the band as by the eager fans.
Sheets of cryptic monochrome clipart taped to the stage stifle setlist spoilers in this intimate venue where respect is the only front rail, but Kvohst introduces almost every track with pre-prepared preambles and puns. The energy builds steadily with tracks like ‘Surf the Apocalypse’ and ‘Children of the Atom Bomb’, and as the finale of ‘Genocidal Crush’ draws the faithful even closer, Kvohst jumps offstage to share the murderous love.
As the applause and cheers fade out, the mosh floor abruptly empties, and the fear that Beastmilk fans are not going to wait for the headline act is a very real one. Almost thirty minutes pass, seeming like an eternity, as the crew prepare the stage for the final act of the night. As if the smell of incense was not intense enough already, dozens of fresh sticks are ignited around the stage and limp fox pelts are hung from the drum stand, flanked by bunches of equally limp lilies. Thankfully, the imminent approach of the Swedes prompts the denim army to regroup at the front, and the anticipation quickly escalates.
A recorded prayer-like intro track heralds the band onstage, where vocalist Pelle Åhman assumes a kneeling, head-bowed stance in front of the dead foxes and lilies, as if summoning inspiration from some other-worldly source. Then, suddenly; an explosion of energy erupts with the catchy opening riff of ‘Death Knows Where’, and brothers Pelle and Gottfrid Åhman start as they mean to continue for sixty minutes; head-banging and bouncing around the confined stage with reckless abandon.
Unfortunately, problems with Pelle’s microphone are immediately evident, and little can be heard of his distinctive vocals during the first few tracks. Several interventions from technicians and replacement cables and microphones later, and all is finally good, with the second half of the setlist trouble-free and back on form. The ten tracks are mostly taken from their high-ranking 2013 album Sister, with a couple from their previous first two albums as well as their cover of Cortex’s ‘Jesus i Betong’. Despite only being in their early twenties, In Solitude had already released two solid albums, giving them plenty of material to chose from; before their crucial “third-album” provided more than enough crowd-pleasers to dominate the hour-long set. The pinnacle of energy and performance of the night had to be the title track ‘Sister’ with its infectious melody that had the crowd fully engaged with sweat dripping from band members and fans alike.
As the show coasts to an end with the less energetic ‘He Comes’, Pelle adds percussion with a tambourine before gathering the lilies from the drumkit and holding them to his face for a few moments and then littering the stage with them. Some eccentric behaviour from the Swedish youngsters, but not at the expense of the quality of the music. We suspect that both Beastmilk and In Solitude will have some new fans after tonight.