The travel went off without only a few slight hitches, but once I got settled in, my goal was to see some really great live music. I was promised “the best that Scandanavia has to offer.”
Did Thursday night deliver?
The first set of the evening for me was at DogA, a converted warehouse/industrial building that doubles as an art gallery. The band I was here to see was Truls and The Trees (Norway) [MySpace], the side project of Lukestar‘s Truls Heggero. The band draws comparisons to The Polyphonic Spree (for the sheer number of people in the band, but 9 < 23, right?) but the sound is amazing.
(SMS Note: The acoustics in DogA are awesome. In fact, everything about the sound here is great. It feels as if every consideration was taken to make sure that the conference/festival goers would have an immaculate sonic experience, which we do. Just wanted to interject this idea before it slipped my mind.)
The band played songs from the album they dropped in December, Ainlanthus, and the most striking comparison might be made to Belle and Sebastian, but “with balls,” as Eden Parke wrote in by:Larm’s morning paper.
The set started very slowly, allowing the chorus of voices to push Heggero’s school boy falsetto to the front. Truls sings as high as humanly possible most of the time, but remains a hair below “ear piercing”; instead he sounds comfortable, pushing a lush, powerful sound that creates the illusion of an 8 year-old boy fronting a rock band.
He’s also not going to win many awards for “Europe’s Sexiest Front Man” (then again, he is sort of built like me) as his round face and portly figure suggest he’s not likely to be seen on a beach unless he is in board shorts and a tank top.
Physical descriptions aside, Truls and The Trees are amazing live, a remarkable feat for a band that was playing only their seventh show. The band features fiddle, accordion and bouzouki (a long-necked lute similar to a mandolin) alongside more traditional keyboards, guitar, bass and drums. Fun times, fun set. Heggero’s voice leaves Thom Yorke‘s falsetto in the dust. It feels flimsy and weak in comparison, which bothers me to say, but finding a new “favorite” band in my first set is pretty rad.
Favorite songs: “Upside Journey,” “Mystaxxx,” and “Cardinal Mountains Heart”
My second and third shows were right around the corner at Kulterkirken Jacob, a renovated church. There were seats still available near the back as I wandered in late for Therese Aune [MySpace] (Norway). It would be some sort of understatement to refer to Aune as a “beauty,” she’s adorable, but to focus merely on her looks would be true disservice would be to her music. The one woman set featured Aune on piano mostly, but she tossed in hand claps, kazoo and a red toy piano just to liven up the proceedings. Her brooding cover of “Barbie Girl” almost redeemed Aqua to me; there is no way the song was convinced as anything less than a humorless examination of society and how we view female sexuality.
Or something like that.
To close out the set, Aune threw in her hit, “I tend to,” a running list of all the ways in which she proves clumsy and socially awkward . Having been unable to approach her through the giggly mass of family and friends that greeted her after the set, I stumble out into the refreshing night air.
Somewhere along Hausmanns Gate, I realize that while most people can connect with those purported feelings of inadequacy, not many understand the consequences of that emotion. It renders the speaker incapable of discerning life’s more complicated emotions. See, everyone is awkward at times, some more than others, but life is about facing challenges head-on and learning from the missteps and confusion.
I am in Oslo alone. I have only spoken to two people out loud (not including the hotel staff and the girl at 7-11) so I can understand. I feel like I can’t communicate right now either.
Favorite Songs: “Barbie Girl”, “Chameleon”, “I tend to”
I walked outside the venue for a bit, trying to kill a bit of time before Thom Hell [MySpace] took to the stage just before midnight. I was offered cocaine twice in that time (which must mean that everyone thinks that all Americans do is coke…thanks Tony Montana!) and solicited by four prostitutes offering me a “fucky good time.” That part made me laugh. They spoke in perfect English as though they were ignorant and Asian (thanks again to Full Metal Jacket for that one) but they were beautiful, Black and well-dressed.
Norway’s hookers are way nicer, but their homeless tend to follow you around.
Thom Hell (Norway) took to the stage with two albums under his belt (and a handful of EPs as well), showing the presence of a master performer. He focused on this evening on the many piano ballads from his latest release, God If I See Her Now. Hell, while more than competent with keys pressed under his fingertips, didn’t play much of the guitar rock that suits him best. The most effective presentation of his skill is with a guitar in hand, which is why so many will remember him more this afternoon for the two pieces he played on guitar, one of which he managed to work “Jolene” and “Wild Bird” into. A moving performance, yes, but the impression I received from the crowd and from what Thom himself said was that he was “working through some things.” Some chick messed him up badly, and he exorcised those feelings while working on this latest album.
The consummate performer can play anything and hold the audience in his palm of their hand, a feat that Hell managed to do when he held his six-string. The warm sound of an acoustic coupled with a voice that evokes Van Morrison or Don McLean (which I am sure he laughs about. As he picked up his guitar, he played part of “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)”), Hell closed off my first night in Norway.
Then I ordered a Ham and Cheese on Rye with an Orange Juice and went to bed.
Favorite Songs: “Can You Still Feel Me”, “Tired”, “Queen of Beauty”