Sunday, November 11, 2007

jens lekman @ the troubadour

Subtitle: Svensk indiepop rockar fett!

In an effort to mix things up, I asked honorary Would-Be Hipster Erin if she’d like to add a guest commentary about Jens Lekman’s Saturday night show at the Troubadour. This lead to several minutes of her squealing, repeating "Jens" at an increasingly frantic pitch, and violent hand-flailing.

It is in that spirit that I present my completely objective review of the evening:

Dear Jens,
Marry me. No really. Marry me. Yes I realize this is an ill-advised idea, what with your cutting off of digits and my sad ability to take a prat fall at any given moment. Ours will truly be a blood-soaked courtship. But surely after your last album hit the top of the charts in Sweden you can afford the bubble wrap and band-aids needed to make this affair work.

Yours very truly,


Needless to say it was an evening of cute, started off my my newest favorite band Throw Me The Statue, a Seattle based collective fronted by Scott Reitherman. Newly signed to Secretly Canadian, their goal is to make the audience love them...naturally making them perfect touring mates for Jens. After sprinkling the audience with hand-held shakers and poppy hooks, even the few die-hard hipsters present made awkward attempts at dancing. Be sure to watch out for the debut album in February 2008, and remember, we here at the WBH wholeheartedly endorse twee-twinged angst.

Jens and his ever-adoring girl band took the stage to the strains of a Tough Alliance in matching, embroidered outfits, looking like runaways from a Sound Of Music stage show. The theatrics only snowballed from there, as the band stomped, danced, and emoted their way through the major hits of the ridiculously wonderful (and still unrecognized by mainstream America) Night Falls Over Kortedala. While the high level of musicianship allowed for almost a note by note recreation of the album versions, theatrics were the name of the game. "The Opposite of Hallelujah" was interjected with a live sample of Chairman of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time," complete with interpretive dance. Any time not playing an active part, Jens' band frolicked, lending the stage the atmosphere of a retro dance party.

One of the night's many highlights came when Jens explained the story behind "A Post Card to Nina," a story I've only heard through a slightly drunk Swedish translator. "So it's very easy to get to Berlin from Gothenburg, it's only a twenty-hour bus ride...which costs about five dollars less than the forty-five minute Rhine Air flight," Jens begins. Once there, he's picked up by his lesbian pen-pal Nina, who takes him to her father's house for some "vegetarian German food...which was a completely foreign concept to me at the time." Before she opens the door to his flat, the story becomes like "a scene out of Buffalo '66...only German," when Nina admits, "I told them we were engaged." After the next verse Jens goes on to tell the next crisis in his growing French farce when Nina's father tells him, "I found you on the Internet - you have a beautiful voice." Jens smiles and adds, "At this point I start blushing...because it's true." By the time he gets to the song's conclusion, the audience is laughing and cringing right along with him.

Like Throw Me the Statue, Jens relied heavily on audience participation, encouraging clapping, singing and dancing. In an unprecedented display of affection, the entire capacity of the Troubadour broke out into dancing during "Friday Night at the Drive in Bingo" (Hipsters dance? Who knew?) and the "bommb boomb boom" heartbeat chorus on "Sweet Summers Night on Hammer Hill" was deafening. The love was mutual. After a particularly rousing audience-sung chorus, Jens paused, blushed, and told us, "You're the best audience I've ever had." Ah shucks, Jens, I bet you say that to all the anonymous rooms of strangers you play for.

The night ended with a solo version of "Pocket Full of Money" where, in a master class of sing-alongs, Jens managed to coerce the audience, not only into singing the low part while he riffed on the high vocals, but to clap and pull out the Throw Me The Statue shakers for one more run.

It would be far too easy to end this rant with an incoherent, giddy closing rant about the cuteness of the evening. Instead, after seeing the power Jens welds over his audience, I'll close with a warning to the full-fledged hipsters of the world: BEWARE! You may not be as cool as you think you are. At any given corner a Swedish indie-popper could be hiding, forcing you to gleefully dance to his sunny take on realistic life issues. Take care my friends. Take care.

mp3: "Maple Leaves (live)" by Jens Lekman
mp3: "Your Arms Around Me (live)" by Jens Lekman
mp3: "Lolita" by Throw Me The Statue


Sophie said...

Sounds a lot like the show I was at! Pretty much pure awesomeness.

Melissa said...

laura, gus and i were laughing SO much at your last comment on my blog. gus is perplexed at why i'm keeping those pictures up. haha now i have girlfriend fodder :)