Mount Rushmore Safari – we went to their concert in Aufsturz and listened to their album Elba

Mount Rushmore Safari concert at Aufsturz 

So I got myself down to the Aufsturz club in Oranienburger Strasse this week to catch Danish band Mount Rushmore Safari on their Berlin date of a European tour. Despite the modest crowd in attendance, MRS delivered a defiant set. It is difficult to identify their genre when playing live, lying equidistant between punk and indie. Certainly they play with the brazen attitude and ferocity of a punk band, with lead singer Andreas Sorgenfrei, dressed curiously in a mod suit complimented by appropriate lamb chops sideburns. Driving the band was drummer Djarn Kargin, providing the fast 16th-note drumbeats more akin to British indie bands like Bloc Party. Vocals oscillated throughout the set from Joe Strummer-esque talking-vocals in ‘House on Fire’ to clear falsetto in songs like ‘Elba’. The set was not without it’s minor difficulties, not technical so much as things (namely guitars and Apple Macs) falling from their respective stands. Ask any band and they’ll tell you these things happen inevitably throughout the tenure of a band’s live career, so to have so many in one 30-minute set was simply bad luck! Occasionally the set would descend into the type of indie insipid to my ears, but generally the band kept up a high-energy performance, making good humour of their mishaps and being very grateful for the small but respectful crowd.

Album Review – Elba

The dynamic of the band changes dramatically on record. Through the magic of the studio they manage to sound a lot more atmospheric, with a shift of focus on building an ethereal mood over slow but hooky chord changes. The general tone of the album is fairly consistent; rock-tinged Indie over predominantly 16th-note rhythms, studded with bell-like guitar arpeggios. However on CD the band at certain points demonstrate an impressive versatility not quite so pronounced in their live set, touching upon country sensibilities in the bouncing bass line of ‘Promised you the World’ or adding a more anthemic and synth-driven vibe in the track ‘Nowhere Line’. Sorgenfrei’s vocals really shine out on this record. In the song ‘John Wayne’ in particular he begins the song with a conspicuous Spaghetti-Western-tinged accent, moving seamlessly into his bright falsetto for the bridge, then to soaring vocals for the chorus. Indeed, for me the high-point of the entire album vocally was the ear-pricking scream at the end of the last chorus which Cobain himself would have been proud of

Whether intentionally done or not, I really admire the dualism of having a hard-hitting live set balanced by a more composed record. ‘Elba’ has more than a few highlights and really does benefit from multiple listenings to.

Article by Neelesh Vasistha

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