Left in the wake of the Wishkah, a lot of now-defunct indie-rock pioneers are releasing live albums to support their old school heroin habits. But that's not the case with Galaxie 500's Copenhagen. One of most terrific bands on the planet left their mark on the barren ground that was the music scene of the late 1980s. Years later, they're hailed as the definitive slowcore band. And that they are; they only practically invented the genre.
Copenhagen archives the last stop of their final tour on December 1st, 1990, and is just now available on CD. These kids wind their way through nine tracks including some of their most memorable songs and a few of their trademark covers (Yoko Ono's "Listen, the Snow is Falling", The Velvets' "Here She Comes Now", and Jonathan Richman's "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste"). At once beautiful and sad, Copenhagen documents the live performance of a band whose music has stood the test of time for ten years and will probably continue to do so for another hundred.
-Ryan Schreiber, May, 1997
Review by Ned Raggett
A presumably final punctuation mark on Galaxie 500's work, Copenhagen, released in 1997, is actually a recording from the last date of the band's late 1990 European tour, captured for radio broadcast in the Danish capital in front of a vocally appreciative crowd. One main reason to listen in is hearing how the band's studio approach clearly differed from the concert arena -- while Kramer handles the live sound, the cocooning web of reverb familiar from the records isn't present here. As a result, the performances have a more direct approach, Wareham's voice a little more naked, his thoughts on emotional connection, and the oddities of life easier to capture. Yang's bass gains in prominence as well, almost more so than Wareham's guitar at points, while Krukowski as always keeps the beat well, adding subtle flourishes and touches as he goes. All this would be mere technical notation if the performance itself wasn't worthy, though, and that it is. Touring for This Is Our Music as the trio was, the set list is mostly focused on that, though a fine version of "Decomposing Trees" starts things off. Three of the band's favored covers close the set -- Yoko Ono's "Listen, the Snow Is Falling," the Velvet Underground's "Here She Comes Now," and a version of Jonathan Richman's "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste" that provides a great final kick. For all the excellence of the show, one can hear a little more than once in Wareham's soloing what Yang and Krukowski later described as his tendency to play the big rock star toward the end of the band's life. It's not bad work, but the cracks were starting to show. Longtime Galaxie 500 fanatic Byron Coley provides the detailed essay in the booklet, a useful history of the group and its influence.