Friday, July 01, 2011

Sondre Lerche, After the El Rey

I remember when I first heard about him, or read about him rather in Blackbook Magazine. Then I saw an ad for his new album on Grooveshark. Then I heard his name on KCRW on my way to work in the morning. Kind of frightening how well targeted marketing works.

I downloaded the album and liked a few singles, Domino, Living Dangerously, When the River, and when I found out he was playing a small gig at the El Rey I thought, why the hell not?

Naively, I went into the show thinking it would be a small affair, but he has an incredibly passionate following. A gaggle of 18-year-old girls and soft, overly-sensitive guys all lined up to hear Sondre and sing along to tracks old and new. After two unique, enthusiastic, and at times painful opening acts Sondre came on stage. It didn't take long to realize his appeal. When you listen to his music you hear the harmony, the honest and haunting voice. But in person it's a totally different story. He has a way on stage, a self-assured sexiness that is both obnoxious and intoxicating. He smiled seductively into the dark theater after playing his opening number, Private Caller, and said, "That's what I'm talking about," or something equally brash. The way he shook his hair, as if he'd studied old reels of John and Paul, makes you think he's been trained. The smarmy back and forth between his band mates made him seem arrogant, but his keen sense of humor made it almost forgivable. I don't want you to think he's all swagger and no substance. He's a talented lyricist, and an even better musician. He has incredible timing, and composition that extends my previous Beatles comparison.

Walking away from the show I was equal parts of annoyed and excited. His music is brilliant, but his sex appeal is infuriating. I think that sums it up.

And from his new album: