Five of the best sets...

From dapper rock to unaccompanied ladies and beats in a rainbow: Denmark’s Spot Festival really mixes it up.

Aarhus regular Si Hawkins selects his five favourite shows from the last six years

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Kellermensch - Voxhall (2009)
A show that shone new light on the aesthetics of hard rock: it needn’t all be grubby black tees and grimy barnets. This was my first Spot and an early visit to the excellent Voxhall venue, which is a short hop from the main hub.

Crammed onto the stage that Saturday afternoon were a dapper collection of be-suited Danish chaps, including a string section, who could well have been lining up some light lounge music for all I knew. Instead they thrust upon us an unpredictably thunderous but finely-crafted racket, fronted by a growly roarmeister you could take home to meet your mum.

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First Aid Kit - A car park (2010)
For a multi-venue city-centre festival Spot has a wondrous outdoorsy feel, and there are added perks if you keep ‘em peeled. Meandering between gigs back in 2010 I chanced upon First Aid Kit, then still at the up-and-coming stage, rehearsing a new composition, on an acoustic guitar, right next to their car.

A rare treat, this. The nascent song was a thing of fragile beauty, and their audience – just me – would have clapped like a happy seal, but then they’d have known I was watching. Furtive car-park spectating doesn’t always go down well (see Collymore, Stan).

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Iki - Godsbanen (2012)
Musicians of every stripe descend on Aarhus at the turn of May. Book a budget local hotel and you’re likely to find yourself wearily queuing for reception with a hallowed producer, shoehorned into a lift with some sharply (under)dressed shock-rockers, or, indeed, being accosted at breakfast by a nine-girl a capella outfit, as happened to yours truly in 2012.

Iki hail from numerous Nordic nations and do novel things with their mouths: wonderfully inventive, improvised but breathtakingly melodic vocal gymnastics. Utterly mesmerising.

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Deathcrush - Atlas (2013)
It’s not often I squeeze right up the front these days, but this was a must-mosh. I’d met the two Deathcrush frontladies a few years earlier (in France, I think), but that was in their mild-mannered everyday personas, and the transformation is tremendous. Deathcrush are glam-rock dynamite, like prime late-‘70s Kiss crossed with Charlie’s Angels: epic riffs, magnificent poses and flyaway hair that could take your eye out. Get close, but not too close.

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The Portuguese Man of War - Your Rainbow Panorama (2014)
Aarhus’ most iconic sight is the multi-coloured ring that adorns the top of its arts museum, ATOS, like some mighty psychedelic doughnut. It was created four years ago by the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, and in 2014 local siblings Anders and Soren Stochholm staged its first ever concert, under that jellyfishy alias.

The duo's down tempo beats were deliberately fashioned for a serene stroll around the multi-panelled Panorama: contrasting moods, contrasting colours, and cracking views of festival life buzzing around the streets and greens below. Memorable stuff.

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SPOT Festival runs between April 30th - 3rd.

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