Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lykke Li, 2/3/09

Lykke Li

Last week, I checked out Swedish indie-popper Lykke Li at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. As much as I like Lykke Li, the real draw for me was the opening band, Wildbirds & Peacedrums (check out “Doubt Hope” first). The drummer plays tribal rhythms while the singer plays a variety of instruments (including plucking a dulcimer) and wails soulfully. It’s experimental and unique and best experienced live. To give you an idea of their sensibilities, here’s a story the band submitted to me for Paper Thin Walls’ “So Tell Us a Story” column:

A couple of years ago, we were living on an island off the coast of Gothenburg. We shared an old, big house with a ex-alcoholic artist-couple we didn’t know before, and it all seemed very nice in the beginning: late-night saunas, early morning moped drives and fresh fish dinners! After a while, the couple started to make a fuzz (sic) about old spirits that kept them awake during the night—we hadn’t noticed a thing, but they insisted that the house was haunted.

The guy, who was a man with big words and a strong hand—he collected cowboy boots and Hitler documentaries—decided to deal with the problem the old-fashioned way. He called for some monks from a monastery to get rid of the lost souls and to push them back down to where they belong... They came with hoods and smoke, and the ghost was released. The problem was that it got stuck inside of the girl instead, and she got possessed! The only thing to do was to bring her to the monastery for some good old exorcism for four days straight. It all ended happy with them breaking up. She acted like nothing had happened and he changed his artist career for a studies in Catholic soul care and found a new, 10-year younger island girl. We moved the next week.

Wilbirds & Peacedrums

Wildbirds & Peacedrums

Lykke Li (seemed to) come out late and, strangely, play her hit songs early. Knocking “I’m Good, I’m Gone” and “Little Bit” out of the way in the first five songs is a gutsy move, but as her performance proved, she had more than enough to back it up. Stomping around the stage in big black boots, banging on the cymbals of either one of two drum kits with a drum stick, and flailing her body possibly uncontrollably, Li commands audience attention like few artists. Midway through the set, she stared into the audience and said, “It's a whiskey voice and Doc Martins for you, Brooklyn.” And that is exactly what she delivered.

Li’s set was mostly originals, but as she said at her gig at the Bowery last October, she’s a “debut artist” and needs to play some covers to fill in the gaps. At that show, she did an incredibly moving cover of Ray Charles’s “After My Laughter Comes Tears.” Among Lykke Li’s covers in Williamsburg were Kings of Leon’s “Knocked Up,” Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” (simply called “Lil Wayne” on the setlist below and was really more of a sample than anything) and what seems to be her perennial, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It.”

Throughout the show she chided the audience, made lovably ridiculous statements about how daring she is to have a good time and, well, delivered good times. Lykke Li is one of the best live performers I’ve seen in a while in that she communicates with the audience the same way Metallica did a couple of nights before, by pacing the stage and wholly embracing hubris. Unlike a lot of other “indie” bands I’ve seen in the not too distant past who seem to go through the motions, I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

Lykke Li

Lykke Li and friend595

Midway through the set, Wildbirds & Peacedrums joined Li for a song.

Lykke Li with Wildbirds & PeacedrumsLykke Li

Obligatory artsy-fartsy shots:

606Lykke Li

Brooklyn Vegan snagged the setlist:

Brooklyn Vegan setlist

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