Sunday, October 11, 2009

fever ray @ the henry fonda

Some people go to horror films. Me? I get jacked up on sugar at House of Pies (Pecan -- for the record), and see Fever Ray. I’d be lying if I didn't admit that by the time the curtain rose on the chillingly beautiful set, my heart wasn't pounding as hard as any virginal teen being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac. (Which, come to think of it, might have been the inspiration for the abrasive house "music" between sets. Really, Henry Fonda?)

Interestingly enough, despite standing in the second row, I still have no idea what Karin DreijerAndersson looks like. Fever Ray may ultimately be the expression of a solo artist, but it's become so much more -- a fact driven home by elaborate stage design by Andreas Nilsson. Fringe-adorned lamps blinked ominously to the beat-heavy music. Clumps of incense burned at the front of the stage -- their sick sweetness washing over the audience. Man-made pathetic fallacy at its finest, fog freely billowed. By the end of the set the entire room would be nearly obscured.

The five-person band proceeded onto the stage to the dull chants of "If I Had a Heart" -- Andersson hidden under a mountain of furs lit from the inside. Even after she cast off her coat-of-one-color at the end of the third song (an attempt to foil photographers who were unceremoniously ushered out at that point?) she was still hidden under rolling smoke and heavy stage makeup that rendered her appearance more Ingmar Bergman's "Death" than human. Having made a career out of obscuring her identity with electro-Goth duo The Knife, this wasn't terribly surprising.

Andersson never said a word -- normally cause for complaint. But her stage persona -- part dark sorceress, part little-girl-lost -- spoke volumes. Even though she was sandwiched between equally costumed band members (I was particularly taken with her glasses-wearing, headdress-swinging laptop/guitarist who, despite layers of face paint, still managed to exude geek-chic) and competing with a smoke and a laser show, there was never a question as to where central focus was. Lasers were bounced around the stage and -- during "Triangle Walks" -- shot out into the audience, leaving the bottom half of the Fonda feeling like they were underwater -- but end the end it all came down to the first lady of Fever Ray. Moving only between keyboard and mic, emoting only with her hands -- which perpetually swayed in spell-casting circles -- Andersson clearly had the audience in her control.

During the penultimate song, we might -- just might -- have gotten a taste of the person behind the art. Andersson stepped to the front of the stage, and in a moment of near-vulnerability, sang a non-album song about the joy her children have brought her. (Then again, given the thematic darkness of the night, this could have been another clever metaphor.)1

However, moment over, Andersson donned her mountain of furs and stepped back into the shadows. The band threw themselves into the ghostly clatter of "Coconut" and slowly, one by one, reversed their procession, back into the smoke and receding lights, leaving the audience to stare in slack-jawed wonder at fog swirling around an empty stage.

1If anyone has any info on this track, I’m dying to get my hands on it.

mp3: "When I Grow Up (D Lissvik remix)" by Fever Ray


Eszter said...

you WOULD go to the fonda instead of the glass house. props to you for describing the show way better than I did. As for that song you're looking for, she covered two on my night: Stranger Than Kindness and Here Before (Here Before was the one she played second to last in pomona). I have videos of both up here:

Anyway glad you had as good a time as me!


Eszter said...

the song you're looking for is Here Before. It's by Vashti Bunyan. here's the original


LMS said...

Wow- you're great! Thanks.

kittykittenlane said...

you put into words a night i simply could not
07.10.09 what a show. wow. still. incommunicable

sometimes in daylight i have to remind myself to relive it, - so -indefinable, that show .
your rundown helps ;p

came home after & colored my bedroom walls w crayons and whatnot. creative colors flow from dark inspirations,

thanks for this.