Last week, we locked ourselves in a familial cage and stuffed our faces with turkey until our eyes popped out and we swore to never, ever go back for fifths again for the rest of our lives. (Didn’t we learn this last year? And the year before?) A couple days earlier, Copenhagen-based multi-instrumentalist and bootstrapping badass Trentemøller stopped by The Fillmore to send us off into the weekend with more than just turkey and tears. This was one of the last shows supporting the touring cycle for last year’s Lost album, and I can tell you right now the band is still picking up steam, even as the tour winds down.
Fellow Copenhagen producer T.O.M. and his Computer was the perfect opener for the show. The deep, droning hum of the bass and hollowed-out tribal drum sounds are awash in melancholy and evoke a smoky, sinister sentiment similar to Forest Swords and Mezzanine-era Massive Attack. What better way to warm up a crowd than chill them to the bone? Check out the haunting “Ingatorp” below:
T.O.M. and his Computer – “Ingatorp”
As the lights went dim after T.O.M.’s moody set, Trentemøller’s presence was announced with the ominous, rumbling low end of Lost highlight “Still on Fire.” I’m pretty sure the opening bass notes were plucked from inside a toxic waste barrel submerged thousands of feet underwater. Add a galloping drum beat, dual ringing guitars, a few maracas (!), and some nervous synths, and it’s not long before the song is in full-on post-apocalyptic sprint mode. There’s something dark, sexy, and visceral about the sound.
Trentemøller – “Still on Fire” (Live @ Nuits Sonores, France)
And thus, the stage is set for Anders Trentemøller’s truly unique music and performance. Combining elements of pulsating electro-industrial house, symphonic rock, hand-clapping 1960’s pop, and even balladry, you just can’t put this man’s music in a box. If you tilt your head just right throughout the course of a set, you’ll hear the moodiness and drama of Depeche Mode, the banging, off-kilter electronic wizardry of Modeselektor, and even Dick Dale’s soaking wet surf guitar… sometimes all within one song.
For example, check out how the cinematic “Shades of Marble” from 2010’s Into the Great Wide Yonder uses contrasting instrumentation to tell a beautiful yet painful story without words. It begins with a gently bubbling synthesizer, then takes an unexpected turn for the sinister with a dive bombing western guitar and jangly boot-spur tambourine shakes. The song alternates between the two respectively delicate and powerful narratives before erupting into a twisted and colorful display of digital fireworks that might sound celebratory, if it weren’t for the sad string section that persists like an aching pain throughout the track:
Trentemøller – “Shades of Marble” (Live in Copenhagen)
While these are Trentemøller’s songs, he wouldn’t be able to bring them to life so vividly without his talented cast of leather-clad cohorts in tow. He rocks and writhes behind an array of keyboards and various percussive trinkets, setting the pace as the composer and conductor of the show. Meanwhile, his bandmates move in a circular pattern around him, effortlessly switching instruments like some gothic jam band trapped in a German nightclub. Longtime collaborator Marie Fisker is a constant presence, her pale skin and bright red lipstick in stark contrast to her dark pixie cut and the surrounding blackness. When she’s not bending and twisting the neck of her guitar to her will, she’s front and center, engaging the adoring crowd and delivering a pristine vocal performance. Here she is covering for The Drums singer Johnny Pierce (the original vocalist on this song) on a Lost tour promo from earlier this year:
Trentemøller – “Never Stop Running” (feat. Marie Fisker)
While the sheer sonic dynamic and performance-art nature of the show created many unforgettable moments, the climax was the absolute wrecking ball of the closing encore track “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!”. I wish I had video for you of this one- it had the entire crowd jivin’ like we were jammin’ the jukebox at a run-down 5 & Diner in the year 2117. If you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re tripping on acid while fleeing the zombie apocalypse on a hoverboard, this was your moment. It might be just a tad bigger of a crowd and production than The Fillmore in SF, but how can you see this performance of the track from Roskilde ’09 and not want to be a part of it?:
Trentemøller – “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!” (Live @ Roskilde Festival ’09)
If there’s anything this guy does well, it’s reinvent himself and expand on his signature sound with each new release. This was the second to last date of the Lost tour, which is now over… but next time Trentemøller comes to town, he’ll probably have new material for us.
All I wanna know is, who’s coming with me?
Check out Trentemøller’s Bandcamp page here.
Catch Trentemøller on tour here.