Live Review: First Hate – The Hug & Pint

Copenhagen’s First Hate have been making waves in the underground synth scene for a little while despite their debut full length ‘Prayer For the Underemployed’ only being released last month. On what some would call a rather relentless tour schedule, the duo – made up of Anton Falck Gansted and Joakim Nørgaard – landed their electro goth pop spaceship directly into a warm summer Friday night on Glasgow’s west end.

Despite the band’s ultra 90’s style ‘curtains’ hairstyle, dressed in simply a white t-shirt and smart trousers, it would be fairly easy to miss frontman Gansted on a usual Glasgow evening, but with a fully on trend crowd ready for fun, they were not let down by his rather fantastic dance moves as he pretty much burst straight onto the stage, swinging and swaying his hips to the bands title track from the new album.

Some would be quick to dismiss First Hate as basic ‘euro trance’ – and I include myself in that – tonight would be the night where sceptics would delve deeper into the band’s aesthetics. Signed to Danish independent label ‘Escho’, the bands newest release did have a little spill over of club beats, but is pulled back in by emotive lyrics that are intended to move more than just your dancing feet. The test would be how well this could be pulled off live.

Whilst it was a modest crowd at the Hug & Pint, it would be fair to say that with everyone right up front, it could have quite easily seemed like Wembley Arena from the stage. However further forward the crowd ushered though, charismatic vocalist Anton asked in the most polite manner possible if the crowd would like to come as close as possible, in hindsight, I think he wanted a dancing partner on the stage.

But as I attested to earlier, it would be all too easy to put down the duo as a basic euro trance/synth pop act, tracks such as ‘Holiday’ and ‘Copenhagen’ seemed to throw shade to the claim cheesy synth beats can’t be as emotional and touching as say an indie track, or be as aggressive as the Copenhagen punk bands that have come before them – it’s not presented the same way, but it’s very much still present, perhaps showing an indication of how bands like First Hate are changing the way Europe looks at the world, and indeed the previously aggressive, angry Copenhagen punk scene. It’s definitely as DIY though, this is music on the youngsters own terms. There’s no arguing on that.

Stand out tracks such a ‘Trojan Horse’, ‘Girls in the Club’ and ‘The One’ really seem to notch up the atmosphere in the audience, which has gone from a casual sway, or a nod of the head to full on busting out everything they have. Going from the super fans to the onlookers, like myself, taking it in for the first time, there’s a wave of real energy in the room, despite it only being around five songs into the set.

Interestingly, the band has their own smoke machine which they take onto stage, programmed and controlled by Nørgaard – this seemed an odd move, as the band themselves almost seemed to find it comical, even announcing “give me a second, I’m just going to put more smoke on the stage”. It is at this moment I realise what this band seems to be all about.

Each track is powerful, there’s no doubt about it, the dance moves, the hip shaking and Dave Gahanesque vocals all point a very serious – at times powerful – set up that never relents on being mesmerising to watch thanks to the charisma and minimalist style of both men on stage, with beats akin to early Erasure, their backdrop of pop sensibilities however give an element of fun, a kind of fun that makes you want to join the Danish two piece in some sort of weird dance off that ends in a tearful goodbye hug. It’s an interesting combination to feel at a show, but one they somehow seem to pull off!

If tonight is anything to go by, it may be quite some time before we see First Hate in a small, half full venue because this kind of performance is the glue that keeps the ageing youthful and the youth amongst us hopeful of better things to come and it’s in that where perhaps First Hate have found a home to flourish. I know next time they play Glasgow; I’ll certainly have my dancing shoes at the ready.

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