Denmark’s Carpark North in Switzerland - 20 April 2011

Huge stars in their native Denmark, Carpark North are gaining momentum in these parts as well, not least thanks to their tireless touring. It says a lot about a band when they upstage the main act at a gig, a feat they accomplished while supporting 30 Seconds To Mars in Zurich in early 2010.

Now they’re back in Switzerland, playing to a loyal following of fans in still-tiny venues. The Galery in Pratteln near Basel was one such venue – the band were amused by the oddity of the place, noting that they’d never played in a bar inside a shopping centre.

Drummer Morten Thorhauge mentioned to The English Show in an interview that “when you’re touring as the supporting act, you become the underdog – and it’s always fun to be the underdog because you can only impress people. People don’t expect anything from the supporting act.” Now that they’re headlining their own tour, can they impress just as much?

The appreciative audience gathered at the Galery seems to think so. Carpark North mix guitar-based rock with electronica and have a startling knack for catchy hooks and huge choruses – ingredients that are just begging for crowd sing-alongs in massive arenas. Just Human provides the rock-meets-rave anthem, Transparent has the kind of yearning quality that inevitably leads to mass arm-waving, and Leave My Place delivers the goods in the ballad stakes.

It’s a shame that singer and guitarist Lau Højen’s voice can be off-key in a live setting, detracting from the bombast of some of the songs. There’s also a danger of the instantly memorable tunes sounding too polished, too easy on the ear, without the necessary depth to sustain them over the long haul. Good thing they throw in the occasional unusual sample to keep things interesting. More starts off with a series of bleeps that sound like they’re from an 80s video arcade game, then moves into a hefty hair metal beat.

There’s no denying that Carpark North’s shows are hugely entertaining affairs: the musicians are a bundle of energy and joy on stage, enthusiasm dripping from every pore. Højen is visibly having a blast throughout the set, while keyboarder and bassist Søren Balsner bounces all over the tiny stage so energetically it’s a wonder the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down. They’re poised on the brink of bigger things – here’s hoping that their sound develops even further to match it.


Listen to Carpark North drummer Morten Thorhauge talk about being the underdog, playing in Switzerland, and conquering the world.