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Shining @ Backstage, Munich, Germany

Imperium Dekadenz / Der Weg Einer Freiheit / Shining
in Thursday, 12 November 2015 at Backstage
by Erika Kuenstler

I had originally planned to do a live report of SHINING’s recent show in Munich, Germany, but after hearing people still complaining for days about their controversial performance, I thought I’d rather chip in my two cents.
Now, the first thing is to not confuse this Swedish band with the Avant-Garde band under the same moniker hailing from Norway. Indeed, I can only imagine the look of absolute consternation on the faces of fans who accidently show up at the wrong concert; the two bands are really worlds apart. Swedish SHINING has always been notorious for their stage performances, with singer Niklas Kvarforth including antics over the years such as drinking urine, slicing himself open with razorblades, and handing out razors to the audience, amongst other things that would have your granny crossing herself in horror.

And whilst things certainly are more pacified than their shows from a their earlier years, there nevertheless seems to be a general progression in the three of their performances that I’ve seen in the last year and a half. At Wolfszeit Festival 2014, the show was rather tame: a bottle of the ever-present Jack Daniels was poured into and over the first row, and that was about it. Then at Wacken Open Air 2015, the show was slightly more intense. Again, the Jack Daniels flowed freely into the first couple of rows, Niklas sliced his forearms with a razor, and he brought out a riding crop, which he used on guitarist Euge Valovirta after he supposedly misplayed a single note. Yet SHINING’s recent appearance in Munich along with IMPERIUM DEKADENZ and DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT seemed to take things up another notch.
Entering at the start of the first song “Vilja & Dröm”, Niklas came out onto the stage once more yielding his riding crop, using it to lash the front row of people. Prowling around the stage like a caged animal, fans and band members alike felt the sting of his blows throughout the show, with none in range being spared. And the ubiquitous Jack Daniels again made its appearance, being spat or poured into and over those closer to the stage. Indiscriminately putting fans and his guitarist in a headlock whilst he sang, and making numerous comments about ingesting copious amounts of drugs, Niklas most likely is exactly what your parents dread when they hear about Metal concerts.  And whilst his charismatic grin could be taken as the smile of a madman, there is a mocking quality in it, giving the feeling that he’s laughing at some joke that no-one else there gets.
Such actions make it exceptionally easy for the media to scandalise the band, and to be fair, SHINING do seem to thrive off of this limelight. However, part of the melodrama and luridness of these reports is their very one-sided approach. A prime example here was the woman standing next to me at the concert. Yes, bassist Christian Larsson did at one point shout and swear at her, threatening to beat her up. Yes, other members of the band did spit on her and did deliberately ash their cigarettes over her. And of course Niklas took things a step further by trying to put out his cigarette on her hand. These three facts alone could spew any number of sensationalised headlines. But if you take into consideration that she repeatedly kept touching them and their instruments, and kept trying to take their cigarettes from them, things start to look a little different. At the end of the day, SHINING are showmen and musicians, and it is frustrating and difficult to put on a riveting show for the rest of the audience if you’re constantly being pawed at and groped by someone, especially when that person doesn’t seem to get the meaning of “no”.
There’s no denying that SHINING are a sensationalistic band that flourish off of showing humanity’s darker sides. However, before one can berate the band for their particular form of artistry, consider where they’d be if no-one came to their shows. The plain and simple truth is that they would be nowhere. The fact that they can fill a fairly large venue on a week night stands testament to the devotion of their fans to their music, with several standing wide-eyed in admiration in the very first row. But surely the fact that SHINING are able to treat their fans as they please speaks volumes about the attitude of these fans? Many doubtlessly go there to rubberneck and check out “that fucked up band”, which at best seems shallow to me. Yet what about those fans who really do put the band up on a pedestal and willingly allow SHINING to do whatever they like? Can one entirely place the blame on someone for pushing boarders whilst voluntarily allowing those very same boarder to be so trampled over? And then legitimately complain about it afterwards? In my worldview, this makes little sense, and the more I think about, the more I start to understand that inside joke of Niklas’s.
So as a parting shot, I leave you with one final question. Is SHINING really such a debased band, or are they merely the mirror which shows us what we don’t want to see: the ugliness and stupidity of humanity?
1. Intro 1 - Den påtvingade tvåsamheten
2. Vilja & Dröm
3. Framtidsutsikter
4. Människotankens vägglösa rum
5. Intro 2 - Strings
6. Besvikelsens Dystra Monotoni/Neka Morgondagen
7. Ohm (Sommar med Siv)
8. Människa O'avskyvärda Människa
9. Intro 3 - Att med kniv göra sig illa
10. Eradication of the Condition
11. Låt oss ta allt från varandra
12. For the God Below

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Edited 03 February 2023

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