After surviving for nearly twenty years on the sparse musical heritageprovided by Ace of Base and the odd death metal outfit (well, since the demise ofAbba at any rate), Sweden has, remarkably, produced a sudden wealth of talent. The doorswere opened, mid-90s, by The Cardigans, and now we have the masterfulcartoon-punk of The Hives, epic rock with The Soundtrack of Our Lives andacoustic delight of The Kings of Convenience. And tonight’s gig showcases anaddition to the exponentially rising roster of good Swedish bands.
The (International) Noise Conspiracy (T(I)NC) are a band on the up. They’vesupported all the right people – The Hives, At The Drive In and mostrecently The White Stripes on their recent US tour (there’s even talk ofJack White being in tonight’s audience) and it looks like their time is now.
Of the bands mentioned above, T(I)NC draws most parallels with TheHives, if only because both play hi-energy garage punk and wear a banduniform. Tonight the band don punky looking sleeveless black printedT-shirts with the obligatory brushed-forward, dyed-black hair. Unlike TheHives, the Conspiracy don’t just wear uniform as sartorial gimmickry – it’salso an expression of political solidarity.
Yep, the band have a political message and it’s pretty much in tune withthe recent May Day demonstrations – capitalism is bad, smash the system, etc.etc. Singer Dennis Lyxzen earnestly talks about “what happened inGothenburg” between songs, which havetitles like Capitalism Stole My Virginity, Up for Sale and Smash It Up. “Theproblem with the French election is not that Le Pen got 18% of the vote,” Lyxzendeclares mid-set, “but that he got one single vote”. Although this generateshuge cheers from the audience, the reason they’re here, I suspect, is not toponder the shortcomings of an apathetic democracy, but to Rock Out.
They’re given every opportunity to of course, with fiercely anthemicchoruses and crunching guitar riffs on the stand-out tracks The Reproductionof Death and Up For Sale. All five band members have quite clearly masteredtheir punk rock posturing: Dennis’s Iggy Pop-styled microphone swingingcompliments the enigmatic presence of keyboard player Sara, and even thebassist and drummer demand more attention than most rhythm sections: at onepoint drummer Ludwig elevates himself into a Christ-like pose on his drumstool.
If you can stomach the anti-capitalist diatribe and the last At theDrive-In album didn’t give you a headache, then T(I)NC could be the band foryou. But if, like me, you prefer a peppering of irony served up with yourgarage punk, you’re better off sticking with The Hives.