Efterklang @ The Button Factory
The old Temple Bar Music Centre sign still hangs on the side of the building, but the Button Factory is a new venue. Gone is the dank cellar of the past, entered through a narrow, steep staircase, past the long benches at the back where zombies wandered. Now we have carpets, mood lighting and soft wood, and a wide expanse of stage visible from the bar at the back of the venue. The slight air of yuppiefication is acceptable in the context of what we had in the past. Worth a visit, if you have not yet been.
That you can now see the stage from the bar means a lot of people hang around the back, especially though the support act. Main act Efterklang had no such problem, with an enthusiastic crowd abandoning their comfortable seats to get closer to the action. The Danish group arrived dressed for the show looking like a bunch of granddads, all wearing white shirts with tight cuffs and high-waisted slacks, offset only by the occasional rakish scarf and the female piano player Anna Bronsted (also the support act), who did not look at all like anybody's grandparent.
Efterklang began in typical form, which is loud, melodic and orchestral post-rock, reminiscent of Arcade Fire or Radiohead at times, with a wall of sound that can only be achieved in a live setting by having eight people playing different instruments and also drumming on every surface they can find. Choruses rise and fall like waves, songs last for ten minutes but never get tired. It was difficult to understand where exactly they were hiding the extra instruments, but as well as their 'normal' array of guitars, keyboard, percussion and singing, they regularly produced whistles, a bunch of mussel shells, a handheld xylophone, trumpets, bugles and what may or may not have been a flugelhorn.
The band are very interested in the visual element of their work, with intricate videos accompanying their songs, and exciting visuals and lights at the show, although the strobe was overbearing at times.
The frontman Casper Clausen, boasting a schoolboy pudding-bowl haircut, seemed so genuinely pleased to be there that his enthusiasm became infections. He informed us that they were very happy to be there on the night as a full band, as a show in Britain the night before had been cancelled when Peter the guitarist had been prevented from entering the country. This allowed him to engage in some light insults of the Brits, a guaranteed crowd pleaser at most Irish gigs.
While the band pumped out the tunes, they failed to really lift the tenor of the show to something more than just good. It may be that these Danes are just too nice for rock and roll. It would be impossible to imagine them smashing their instruments, for example. That may be expecting too much, but unless they learn to cut loose a bit more, their live shows will be fun, with fine musicianship, but lacking a certain something (although it must be said that the sound levels were low during the gig). For all my complaining, the Button Factory crowd loved it, with encores demanded and much love being received by our gracious host Casper, who beamed like he had just won the gold medal in the school sports day.