SPOT Festival  |   MXD

Dec. 14 – 2011:When Cologne Acquired a Taste for Denmark and Vice Versa

 |  Henrik Friis

Vinnie Who in the Cologne spotlight.Danish music export was allowed to interrupt the Christmas preparations in Cologne for six fruitful hours

An abundance of wooden sheds and Christmas stalls with gingerbread, glühwein, hot chocolate, pancakes, curry wurst, and the whole shebang surrounded the new Danish export campaign at the Cologne venue Stadtgarten on Wednesday night. However, the rapidly approaching festive season did not overshadow the impression of a successful first-time appearance at a new and significant destination on the SPOT On Denmark map: No less than 275 spectators and media and music business people had found their way through the Christmas labyrinth to the Cologne venue in order to see three relatively obscure (in Germany that is) Danish acts: Treefight For Sunlight, Vinnie Who and Rangleklods.     

Treefight For Sunlight – overcame the sound problemsTreefight for Sunlight – gradually overcame the sound problems. Very diverse acts in terms of genre and style, but that fact did not seem to bother the fans nor the music industry people, who created a great atmosphere all through the night. Nor when Treefight for Sunlight started their gig with significant sound problems that continued until the fifth song on the set list. However, with the problems solved from this point, the band’s melodious, psychedelic pop with highlights such as “Time Stretcher” and the cover of “Wuthering Heights” ruled supreme to the end of the concert and made it abundantly clear that it was no coincidence that the Cologne jury at the SPOT Festival in May had hand-picked them for this SPOT On Denmark night.  

The band’s manager Lisa Marxen from Blackwood Music was happy about the gains of the Cologne campaign in general, because most of all the band needs all the press and focus it can get in Germany where the band has already got contracts with a record company and booking. And Treefight for Sunlight has certainly been in the limelight, so in addition to support gigs in Germany for Australian Tame Impala and a headliner show in Berlin, the band was also in the line-up for the SPOT On Denmark night in Hamburg in September. “Now there is a solid foundation when the band is going on tour after the completion of the album that they are about to embark on”, says the manager.

Vinnie Who - great connection with the audience Vinnie Who enjoyed being back on stage despite having decided to take a break from the gigs
When the next act, Vinnie Who, entered the stage, the sound problem was history. If one felt that it was a bit odd that the mirror ball in the ceiling was not on for this particular act, one had to look no further than the stage instead: To the right and to the left of the band were two red Christmas trees blinking in time (there were a total of five plastic Christmas trees on stage all night as part of the set-up!) while Niels bagge and his men confidently took the stage in style and in complete control.

“Remedy” and the rest of the seductive, pumping up-to-date 70s disco songs were immediately appreciated by the audience, the majority of whom grooved in time with the music with big smiles on their faces. That was also the case with one of the Danes at Stadtgarten – the footballer Ken Ilsø, who plays for Fortuna in the neighboring city Düsseldorf. Ilsø has actually used his celebrity position to promote Danish music and this SPOT On Denmark event on his Facebook fan site and in various interviews before the Danish night.

“In fact we had agreed not to play any gigs in this period. We are currently recording new material, and to tell you the truth my mind and our music are elsewhere right now”, says Niels Bagge and continues, “But now we have played SPOT On Denmark in Brussels, Transmusicales in Rennes, which happened due to SPOT and finally tonight in just two weeks. And it has been great. We have had a bit of time off from the things that we spend all our time on, and it has given us some spark. Now we have played SPOT On Denmark in Vienna, Brussels, Montreux and Cologne, and that makes it possible for us to go on a European tour after our next album, because now we have something to build on instead of having to try our luck in a pub in London.”

Rangleklods – the wizard at workRangleklods: Who said it should be easy?
Rangklods rounded off the event and luckily still in front of a considerable crowd in Stadtgarten even though Wednesday night was approaching Thursday morning. Clearly, they did not want to miss Esben Andersen’s mix of pop, solid beats, drama and monumental scope. In addition to Rangleklods’ own efforts on stage, the guitarist and singer Tikki was by his side and helped make the final gig a memorable conclusion to a great night.  Rangleklods’ manager Sabry Loedige from Volcano is anxious to see what the gig may bring in the long run. “We are looking for both booking and a record company down here. We had a specific record company in mind, but now I doubt we’ll make a deal with them. Instead we got in touch with another record company, and they were thrilled. And the big booking company SSC – we also established our first contact with them. In a way I think it’s healthy for us that it doesn’t work out as easily as it has done in Denmark over the last couple of months. Abroad it is kind of back to basics, and therefore it has been great to be part of this setup and meet so many people and have the time to talk to them.”     

Every last seat taken – with food and exchange of views and business cards.Important Networking
What Sabry Loedige is referring to is the networking session, which is an integral part of the SPOT On Denmark concept. Usually the session is held before the showcase concerts. That was also the case in Cologne, where 50 representatives from Cologne media and the Cologne music business met with a range of Danish colleagues – and some from Luxemburg and Belgium as well – for duck roast and other Danish Christmas goodies while the speed meeting schedule made sure that the business cards were flying back and forth between the participants as the first new contacts were established. Hopefully with tangible results in the weeks, months and years to come. Indeed, it was hard for the organizers to stop smiling after the event.

As Gunnar Madsen, SPOT Festival boss and deputy chairman of MXD, put it immediately after the final tunes of the night, “We have all the reasons in the world to be satisfied with this, our first major shot at Cologne as home of one of our SPOT On Denmark launches. A great and enthusiastic local crowd gave a great response to the three acts. The support from the Cologne music and media business was sincere and positive. Both in terms of presence and interest. I’m certain that the collaboration with our colleagues from c/o Pop has contributed to the credibility and helped create a buzz around the event”.  

Read the music business comments on the SPOT On Denmark in Cologne here.


* The SPOT On Denmark in Cologne received financial support from The Danish Arts Council’s Music Committee.