Review: Anna von Hausswolff at The Garage, Glasgow

Later in the night, Refused’s Dennis Lyxzén will say “music is about pushing boundaries.” The headlining punk band knows a thing or two about that, seeing as their album The Shape of Punk to Come is one of the most influential in the rock scene.

Refused continue to do things their own way by taking Anna von Hausswolff out on tour as their support act. Where they want to destroy capitalism with their abrasive anthems, Hausswolff’s music has an otherworldly grace, thunderous percussion, and has more in common with post-rock than anything the headliners do.

Initially an unassuming presence, her small stature is quickly forgotten as she howls and headbangs her way through a number of tracks that are all about mood, atmosphere, and emotion. Her voice is used sparingly, and cuts through the wall of sound as an instrument added to the mix – her comprehensible vocals are not a million miles away from Kate Bush, but she often simply screams as her music builds layer upon layer of continuous noise.

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A controlled crescendo

Much like, say, Susanne Sundfør, who also masterfully weaves intricate complexity around her pop tunes, Hausswolff’s experimental nature does not make her a challenge to understand. In the live environment, the dynamics are on full display. One moment you can hear the chatter of people at the bar over delicate and quiet keys, until an almost unacknowledged crescendo has happened and everyone on stage is battering their instruments to create some sort of controlled madness. It is the kind of aural assault that stops you in your tracks, hypnotises you, and leaves your body covered in goosebumps.

In that sense, she is absolutely the perfect touring partner for Refused. Their political punk provokes a very physical reaction from people, whether that be fist-raising or mosh-pitting. Hausswolff’s music is captivating, consuming, and commanding. It brings people to a standstill and transfixes them as strobe lights flash in time to percussion that is wildly driving cacophony of keys and guitar.

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An experience filled with energy

It is easy to imagine Hausswolff’s music would truly come to life in, say, a church or a cathedral. Like other artists who could be argued to be post-rock, her music is so grand and so expansive that it deserves an equally magnificent venue. Not only that, but the haunting and gothic sound of her keys would feel right at home in a place with rich history.

The night would end with everyone exhausted from the raw energy Refused whip up during their headline set, but Anna von Hausswolff’s set is equally memorable for its emotion, its uniqueness, and its sheer power.

Were you at the performance? What did you think? Have your say in the comments section below.