On Saturday, 24. May, as supporting act for Sleep Party People, Ice Cream Cathedral opened up proceedings, slowly winning over the crowd with their self-coined brand of Space pop. Live, Ice Cream Cathedral exude the hallmarks of a runaway train; dangerous, but exhilaratingly unpredictable. The trio have perfected the art of sounding like it could all fall apart into a chaotic, dissonant mess.
It never does, but it retains that crucial air of madness.
At Radar in Aarhus, they genuinely left spectators in awe. Those attending were not prepared for such a precise sonic assault. Set up in a triangular formation, the band played to each other as much as they did to the crowd. The set was marked by Anja T. Lahrmann’s dreamy, heavily delayed vocals, offset by frenetic changes in tempo and rhythms.
Drummer/percussionist Kristian Paulsen arguably led the three through these calculated aural freak-outs. Armed with a vast array of audio gizmos, he commanded the band from his seat. Using his iPad as an impressive instrument, he triggered bizarre sound effects which punctuated and disturbed the airy soundscapes created by Anja and Anders Bach. The effect is unsettling and entirely captivating.
Sleep Party People emerged onstage in their usual no-fuss manner, lumbering on whilst adorning their trademark bunny masks. The casualness of their arrival made light of the impending intensity of the set.
SPP band leader Brian Batz dove straight into a track where sweet chord progressions and a simple back beat contrasted with the Batz’s fractured falsetto. The music then moved into unexpected territory, with a blissfully unrelated, thundering synth-led instrumental outro. It was this sort of sonic manoeuvre that came characterise their live experience.
Batz’ specialty is to create beautiful musical tapestries, which are then expertly morphed into incredibly moving, but extreme operatic onslaughts. The effect endowed the set with a flow of tracks with dizzying highs and moody lows.
While the sheer visceral power of SPP lay in the hands of the played instruments, it was Batz’s lonely, uplifting vocals that provided the performance’s heart. Often vocoded, always soulful, Batz’ voice was used like a paintbrush on the band’s rich backdrop. The frail vocal timbre floated above the comparatively warm elements of the group, like a ghost in the sunlight. The band ended the set on the euphoria of track “I’m Not Human At All”. The build up is a five minute long affair, but absolutely worth it. The payoff is an unrelenting wall of melodic fuzz and shoegaze guitars, before the come down outro featuring a sole poignant guitar riff.
Together, the two bands transported Radar to a very unconventional, but captivating space.
Photos by Nick McKinlay