Heading to this gig, I admit I didn’t know very much about Marching Church, the Danish band fronted by Elias Bender Rønnenfelt – formally of the band Iceage – as I haven’t before heard their music. But I did expect to be surprised as I knew that the gig was organized by Popscene.
And boy was I surprised, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Up first of 2 support acts was Haiguem Zaboy, who I recently saw at Voice Space opening for The Radio Dept. I think there sound actually matches a place like JAM really well. Don’t get me wrong, big stages are great, but I did think their music was better experienced up close and personal. They easily filled the room with their sound, loud melodies mixed with soft spoken singing, somewhat experimental but still rock enough to get some people dancing.
Up next were The Pillers, getting off to a rambunctious start. Last time I saw them at Speakerbox I called then an Irish band, but they sounded a lot more like a classic rock band this time around, clearly enjoying their time on stage with a lot of energy and people seemed to enjoy it. There was a bit of a break before Marching Church took the stage, and people socialized and got to know each other inside and on the street.
I was captivated from the very first note, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s performance an absolute hurricane of emotion that grabs you in every way.
And when they eventually did begin, good God! I was captivated from the very first note, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s performance an absolute hurricane of emotion that grabs you in every way. Whether his music makes you feel happy, sad or mad I assure you that you will feel something! So much angst and romanticism, but not in the normal ways you would associate those words, not teenager like in nature, more philosophical and with all the liberties that adulthood provides. The music dripped with a wide brush of strong sentiment, both an inward and outward look at love, life and the world – distinct collections of tantrums, torment and questioning. At times Rønnenfelt seemed to be searching for the same emotions or questioning nature in his audience, and at other times retreating into his space and music, throwing himself around the stage and leaning on band members.
It all just ripped you out of your reality and placed you somewhere else, and I found pits of pieces of my past being dig up into my consciousness all without my consent. Between the touchy sound system and sloppy nature of singing not all the lyrics, intentions or emotions were clear – but they most certainly were there, performed and expressed with full abandon.
It was impossible to take my eyes off the performance, and for the first 3 songs – which were particularly depressing in nature – I stood very still, a certain sadness moving through me. But by around the 5th song things picked up, with the style of music more distinctly rock, and the audience got involved, the room moving.
… at the end of the day, Marching Church ensured that those who showed up to that little space on the corner of the Sathorn – whether they liked that exact their style of music or not – left feeling something! Because at the end of the day, they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
At one point Rønnenfelt invited people to get in a bit closer if they wanted, to which one fan responded by getting up next to him on stage. He looked at him with sort of a blank expression for a while, and then stated the obvious “that’s a bit too close”.
Many of the songs like “Information” featured repeated lyrics with strong themes, and the set felt like it carried very well, complete, carrying the crowd along with it. Eventually the last song was sung and Rønnenfelt informed us that unfortunately there would be no encore as it was past midnight, but after the audience begged for it one more song was allowed.
He shushed the crowd and began singing a gentle number, but then saw a girl at the very front of the audience fully preoccupied on her phone. He looked at her only one short moment and then promptly kicked the phone out of her hand! I couldn’t believe it! It’s not necessarily an action I condone but it did cement my opinion that he really had that air of the rock stars of old, emotional and dramatic, with rules very much not at the forefront of their minds.
A lot of people noted to me afterwards that it was a stellar performance, and I think the fact that it was at JAM played a big part in that. As small as it is, this sort of band was made for a venue like JAM, which consistently attracts the sort of open-minded crowds that any band would appreciate, especially the more experimental ones.
But at the end of the day, Marching Church ensured that those who showed up to that little space on the corner of the Sathorn – whether they liked that exact their style of music or not – left feeling something! Because at the end of the day, they may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
— Written by Abner Olivieri, image by Live Music Tonight.