Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jens Lekman Loves You

I semi-reluctantly left the Monkey in the cave and hied it over to Omaha with some buds to eat sushi and see a show (is that the only way to visit Omaha? I think that's how it worked last time, except, this time, it wasn't fifty below!). Jens Lekman, the Swedish superstar was playing Slowdown.

The sushi, by the way, at Sakura Bana, was most excellent. We may have found a winner, just fifty minutes away! The traditional sushi--tuna, salmon, and scallop, were all top notch. Especially tasty, though not true sushi, was the dragon roll: eel and cooked smelt, with avocado-wrapped rice. Mmmmm.

The Slowdown was lightly populated when we arrived at 9pm, and the partition between the stage and the bar was up. Behind the temporary wall, Lekman and his band were performing their sound check. Apparently, weather in Wyoming had held them up in their travels, and they had arrived in Omaha very late. We hoped that the travel traumas would not impact the band's performance.

The opening act, The Honeydrips, consisted of one George Michael meets Kurt Warner singer, with a Mac book. Push a button, here comes the music, and he's singin' his song. Occasionally, he'd don Jens' guitar, but he'd never play it. I wondered what he was on about. Was the guitar a statement of irony? Was he making a joke on himself? Was he wearing it for protection? And why during that song and not this song? I wondered these things as he picked at the air just above the guitar during the "instrumental" portions of the Mac book's performance. I remarked to my neighbor that it was like watching someone you didn't know sing karoake to songs you'd never heard. Does that sound like fun to you?

The Honeydrips raised a lot of questions about the nature of performance and the role of technology in modern music. I won't go into that now, but my showmates and I had a good discussion over the opening act on our sleepy way home.

I noticed that the place had filled up significantly, as Lekman took the stage after a short transitional period. He and his technology/sample/ computer sound guy took the stage first, both in purple (but not the SAME purple) shirts, untucked, and white calf-hugging pants and tuxedo shoes (also white); they began the opening riffs of the opening song (the names of all of which I don't know). Before the breakout, the band joined Jens, all wearing shades of purple--tunic-like tops and some form of tights or tight pants. All performers had shiny, silver keys around their necks. The additional line up consisted of all female performers: bass, drums, cello, and violin. At least visually, this was clearly a band, and they all ROCKED.

Granted, Lekman's music is unapologetically pop. And, mostly, pop is not my cup of tea. But, Lekman's style, that 60s/70s semi-soul sound, his jangly melodies about simple things (like getting a haircut, or visiting a friend), well, dammit, they just sound so good. And, last night, they sounded really good. Most endearing, however, was the feeling that we in the audience got, that Lekman and his band were genuinely happy to be performing for us, and they were really having fun up there.

It's not often you see a show where the performers look so truly enthusiastic, where the energy coming out of the crowd is absorbed and returned by the individuals under the colored lights. When it happens, you just have to love it.

When "Pocketful of Money," the final encore, was winding down, and Lekman sung to the crowd, "I'll come running with a heart on fire," the crowd sung back, "I'll come running with a heart on fire," and it was only fitting that this mutual admiration society was sharing everything, right down to the last note.

1 comment:

La Fashionista said...

Not only is the Japanese girl icon on the Sakura Bana website one of the most adorable things I've ever seen (and thus very much Japanese), I have to say that I'm thrilled to hear you've discovered a fab sushi place. I have yet to find any sushi restaurant around here that rivals Osaka.

I'm glad to hear that you were able to find something provocative to discuss about the 'drips. It otherwise sounded strangely lame or lamely strange. Lekman sounded like a fun show!

P's sisters are visiting this weekend (it's crazy cherry blossoms time!), and I was just telling them about when we saw David Cross at Jesse Auditorium. (None of them have ever seen his live show.) Remember that? One of many good times together back in the CoMO....