Soaking up new music in Aarhus...

I was wary that SPOT Festival was going to be synth pop heavy but I was eager to wade my way through the synthesisers in search of something with a bit more meat on the bone. The endless line up of new names became less over whelming as I scratched away the duos flying the flag for emo R&B.

Raring to go only moments after the plane landed I made my way to see Sløtface, whose name caused many frowns with their previous moniker Slutface. I should have seen their letter tweak as conformist behaviour- I was expecting an electrifying punk presence and sadly, a more forgettable Paramore-esque quartet was all I got.

Radar hosted some absolute golden acts and Uffe championed the venue's line up. As the full ensemble swayed with their instruments the crowd mimicked as they fell under their jazzy-house spell. With nods of approval from the likes of Gilles Peterson, delving in to his 2016 release ‘No!’, and the 2015 Tartlet release ‘Radio Days’ ensured bobbing along to their cheery dispositions and nu-jazz minor key melodies wasn’t going to be missed.

Other Radar performers included SPOT darlings ‘School of x’ fronted by the drummer from the band of Denmark’s pop queen MØ. The earnest set featured cheesey sax solos and soppy lyrics – ensuing a loss of interest instantly. Ellis May drew me back in again with their velvet vocals and dark moody pop, even with the sunny afternoon beckoning. My final return to Radar was to see Shitkid a duo who resembled a stripped back version of Hinds or Dream Wife.

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I really did open this with a negative attitude towards synth pop but don’t worry I saw the light and the love for First Hate. Taking over the Scandinavian Congress Stage the Duran Duran-esque duo were pop bliss, euphoric and electrifying. Easy winners of the blue ribbon for Friday night’s performances as well as shutting this cynic up for good.

Nils Bech, with production akin to Arca and vocals nodding to Sigur Ros, was an interesting performance but mainly for his humour. Taking to the stage with rigid faux seriousness and a playful bashful disposition. He gazed into the eyes of a giant bunny rabbit print ‘I want you back in my life’. He flirts, he leans in closer and dances in an attempt to seduce more than a vacant stare back from this inanimate animation. The intimacy continues as he asks the crowd “Have any of the guy gays here used to date a guy who used to date girls” which preps him and his next prop for his next diary narrative track.

As Saturday night approached I was starving for something harder. Tape offered for the first time a more eclectic mix of electronic music curated with the help of Dane DJ, Courtesy. Equis’ sound art set sampled screams and voices calmly taming them into beautiful echoes with interruptions of flute meditation callings. Courtesy’s set was rich with techno and delivered a well sought after ‘ooof!’ to a packed out Tape. The crowd never dissipated and nor did the energy. A clear win for SPOT festival's new direction.

This festival in Arhus was organised like no other and on a backdrop of a delightful city it was a breeze to run from one gig to the next. SPOT demonstrated to its international festival peers that showcases needn’t be a cesspit for industry dudes circle jerking. They can also be welcoming, intelligent and engaging.

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Words: Isis O'Regan

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