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Live Review: Great Dane Trentemoller Turns SF’s Mezzanine Into Thunderdome! Or, Fairies, Vikings And Ninjas All Getting Along...

Trentemoller leads the rapture @ by RLC
Anders Trentemoller is a Copenhagen-based electronic music producer/composer/multi-instrumentalists/remix specialist and former-DJ. With so many slashes used by people to describe what he does, the one glaring omission is live stage performer. This past Saturday night Trentemoller (the name he is commonly known by) brought the LIVE performer in full force to San Francisco’s Mezzanine for a sold out, one of a kind musical experience that is deserving of as many descriptors as the artist himself. By no means was this one man behind the glow of machines but rather a full seven-piece outfit, featuring some of the most talented Danish musicians I would imagine in any genre. Trentemoller’s music is not easily described but his live show is. In a word, Brilliant! Now for a bunch more words in an effort to capture the scene, music, and general atmosphere he created at Mezzanine.
Dark and mysterious with a touch of by RLC
Having not been to the states in close to two and a half years the audience – easily as eclectic and diverse as the artist they were there to see – were clearly eager with anticipation. Trentemoller has been touring behind last year’s release of his second album Into The Great Wide Yonder. His European shows and festival appearances have been epic stagings, so I was curious as to how he would bring that to a relatively small club environment. The stage had a scrim erected across the front of it made of an industrial fabric separated into strips of reflective orange, with smaller “faux walls of fabric” set back acting to further break up the stage. This gave an interesting depth of field that worked to obscure the band partially, while filtering the various lighting arrangements into the house. Set opener, “Mash and the Fury” set the tone for a night of dark and mysterious music that builds into a release of house-inspired glory. Amidst the ominous decay of electronic sounds and atmospheric touches, were guitars that whipcracked making me think of Ennio Morricone. Only this time, The Good Bad and Ugly was set in Iceland, with Clint Eastwood riding a horse alone across a barren arctic landscape. In Trentemoller’s world, songs and sounds act as cinema as much as musical pieces, each with their own story arcs. I witnessed many dancing out these storylines. Some as post-apocalyptic nymphs or ballerinas twirling their way through digitally enhanced tundra, others as Ninjas dance-fighting their way through a crowded dance floor against an invisible foe. A look around the room reminded me of a scene lifted from Thunderdome, only with a more European fashion sensibility and much better access to bathing. The upper rim of the industrial warehouse-style club packed tight with people thrusting arms in time with the beat at the stage.

Darkness by RLC
Midway through the set the scrim in front of the stage was lower to expose the band filtered through a wash of strobes and perfectly choreographed lighting. The type of lighting I would normally associated with a huge RAWK show by the likes of a Radiohead or Coldplay. The artist’s attention to detail came through not only in his music but also in its live representation. Trentemoller’s music often transforms from cold detachment into euphoric splashes, then, quietly morphing into what sounds like an ominous journey through a dark Nordic forest. He led the band and audience with the exuberance of a classical conductor. The set was softened by some beautiful vocal performances from Josephine Phillips and Ina Lindgreen on the songs “Even Though Your With Another Girl” and “Sycamore Feeling”. Both women are also in Danish band Darkness Falls (which Trentemoller produced), their vocals adding an ethereal quality that swept across like a warm breeze that somehow emerges out of a snowdrift. Set closer “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!” was a wild ride that conjured its title and had the crowd erupting into a frenzy of dance and self-expression you rarely witness in American audiences. This song fuses surf guitars with Goth and Industrial elements, and Trentemoller seemed to relish the effect it was having on the crowd. He returned for an encore shortly after it was apparent no one in the audience had any intention of going anywhere. The band throughout the show was as enthusiastic as their leader, ending the set with instruments held aloft triumphantly like conquering Vikings, fresh from the slaying Grendal. This is the kind of confidence a band used to playing HUGE festivals back in Europe bring to the table that is often missed in American Indie Rock.
No caption by RLC
At the end of the near two-hour performance I was left feeling like I had been through something dramatic but not overwrought, communal and special. After this performance he and his band were headed to Coachella for their festival debut there. I’m sure for the uninitiated that happen along his set, many will be converted into Arctic fairies, traipsing through a cinematic wonderland of their own creation, then entering a wormhole that deposits them back into the Southern California desert. For more on Trentemoller listen to this week’s “What Duvet Said…About Music” for a conversation I had with him prior to the show. He has also been tapped to curate a Late Night Tales compilation and as mentioned above is producing Darkness Falls first full-length release out early this summer (Trenetemoller produced EP available on iTunes). Here his remix of his own song "Shades of Marble" below, along with a video for "Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!" from the Rokslide Festival.

Trentemøller - Shades Of Marble (Trentemøller Remix) by In My Room
Trentemøller - Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!! (Trentemøller Remix) by In My Room

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