Makthaverskan / Lower Smiling Buddha, Toronto ON, October 6
Published Oct 07, 2015Last night (October 6), Gothenburg's Makthaverskan made their Toronto debut. They probably wish they hadn't.
Kicking off a tour with fellow Scandinavian post-punks Lower, who delivered an absorbing show of mostly unreleased material, the still rising Swedish band took the stage to close out the night but were faced with a gruelling 45 minutes of technical difficulties and spoiled performance. Marred with monitor problems, patch cord problems, guitar problems, monitor problems again and then synth problems, they played through most of these issues unresolved, and they were impossible to ignore.
A bum patch cord and then misfiring guitar tech meant the audience had to wait through 10 minutes of scrambling around two songs in, and everyone heard eight limp versions of Hugo Randulv's guitar opening to "Vi var människor från början" before the band finally opted to play it without fixing the issue (a good decision — it never did end up getting mended), but by then, the damage was done.
"I'm kind of nervous because of the circumstances," vocalist Maja Milner admitted when the song ended. "I don't recognize our sound."
Similar conditions supposedly governed Makthaverskan's live debut in 2009, but that gig inspired celebration. And while it's true that some of the Toronto audience was into it, this hardly seemed like the stuff that would spark new adoration. Later, Milner asked the crowd if it at least sounded good on their end, and some yelled back yes, but the singer wasn't convinced ("Honestly?").
The entire set was peppered with apologies, and for a band that spends so much time screaming "Fuck you!" it was more than a little disenchanting.
Guitarist Gustav Data Andersson was the only one that didn't seem irked by the circumstances, acknowledging them simply with a head shake, otherwise content to toy around with pedals in gleeful expressionist asides while the rest of the band figured out their gear between songs.
When Milner screamed lines like "Fuck you for fucking me" on the band's anthemic "No Mercy," she did seem to glean some extra inspiration from the circumstances, but by the end her voice was cutting out.
It was an exhausting headlining performance to follow Lower's melancholic dramas, to say the least. The Copenhagen quartet debuted a set of mostly new material that packed a fiery groove unprecedented in their existing catalogue. With songs they called things like "The Lounge," "Exotique" and "Rumba," Lower's rhythm section drove the downer atmospheres singer Adrian Toubro's tranquil vocals and Simon Formann's woozy guitar consistently construct so well into sultry waltz territory, setting up yet another stage for the Denmark darlings to burn across.
The post-punk poet sloganeering is still there ("Guidance / You need guidance / I'm gonna show you the way," "Rumba" advised), and at Smiling Buddha, Lower showed even more charisma in their presentation. Arms raised and traipsing the stage in a shuffle between lines, Toubro was magnetic, leading a celebration of the disaffected.