Logan Square Auditorium – Chicago, IL
A sold-out crowd filled the Logan Square Auditorium Monday Night in Chicago. Fans consisted of the slightly older crowd who enjoy the orchestral, witty elements of Jens Lekman and the fashionably-dressed, devoted Pitchfork-reading 20-year olds who, prior to Marla Hansen’s set at 8:30, discussed bands to check out and explained why it’s been sooo long since they’ve seen a show.
Marla, who plays in Jens’ 6-piece ensemble, has backed acts such as Kanye West, Sufjan Stevens, and My Brightest Diamond in the past. She plucked her viola for a pleasant 30-minutes in her 5-song set, and before Colette Anderson joined her on cello, Marla’s set was so soft I could hear the gum-chewing of my neighbor. All songs drew from her impressive, Fall 2007, debut EP Wedding Day.
Most were caught off guard when only one person, Mikael Carlsson, represented the Honeydrips, and about half the audience seemed to be familiar with Honeydrips’ material. Mikael made light of the pluralized band name, when he is the only member, “Good evening, we are the Honeydrips.” Later, when a wise guy from the crowd asked why he held a guitar, which he never played, Mikael’s only response was, “Umm…you know.” The set opened with “Wait For the Grief To Come,” and flowed into the single, “Fall From A Height,” which was the crowd-pleaser. The guitar joke became a motif, and before the clap-along “Sun Shinning Down,” Mikael asked the audience, “Can you hear my guitar alright?” The highlight came near the end with, “I Wouldn’t Know What To Do,” before Mikael launched two songs in Swedish about Karolin, which he prefaced by saying, “Yeah, I don’t need the guitar for this one.” By the end of the set, the Honeydrips definitely won over some unacquainted fans.
It wasn’t until I saw Jens Lekman in the sunny outdoors during his 2006 Pitchfork Festival slot that I became a real fan, and now, with the fresh batch of amazing Night Falls Kortedala songs, seeing him in an intimate setting was much more exciting. Jens made a heartfelt request before beginning the show to keep the intimacy within the auditorium, “I’d like to make the naïve request to keep this special moment between us” and refrain from posting videos of the show onto the Internet, which caused the adoring fans to melt (and, so far, cooperate).
Jens did a solo a cappella opening to “I’m Leaving You” and then began ripping up the synthesizer, doing elaborate glissando transitions from one intricate, beautiful pop melody to the next, as the six band members ran on stage and accompanied Jens. The only other male on stage played the laptop and subtly remixed songs while providing a symphony component to the instrumentation. The band tripped through the first two songs, but the band was having too good of a time to care. Jens told the audience, “Sorry about the technical problems,” and asked his band-mate jokingly, “You got it under control?” The Kortedala songs were the strongest and the fan-favorites, but many appreciated the older tunes, “Black Cab” and “Maple Leaves.”
The biggest treat for fans was the new song, “New Direction.” Two Chicago natives found hours before the show played the horns for the large-scale pop song (Swedish pop bands use horns as much as New Orleans blues bands), and Jens sang along with a fun-paced voice melody with lyrics involving Google-map directions on how to get out of the dead-end town, Kortedala. Here’s what “New Direction” sounded like in February at Copenhagen.
From there, the show took off. “A Postcard To Nina” was the show highlight, enhanced with Jens’ interjected storytelling about his uncomfortable vacation to Berlin, which was hilarious and followed by an enormous cheer. The story changes each night, and the Chicago version was better, but this is still gnarly. Jens used his great storytelling to his advantage again in his solo take on “Shirin,” a song dedicated to his old hairdresser.
The grand finale, “Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo,” was an awesome way to wrap the night up, speeding to a thrilling halt. Sadly there were no really cool covers like Jens’ cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” but all three acts and the good vibes from the crowd really didn’t need much improvement.
Here’s the Set:
1) I’m Leaving You (Because I Don’t Love You)
2) Opposite of Hallelujah
3) Black Cab
4) It Was A Strange Time In My Life
5) New Direction (NEW SONG)
6) You Are The Light
7) A Postcard To Nina
8) Maple Leaves
9) Sipping On Sweet Nectar
10) Shirin (solo Jens)
11) A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill
12) Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo
Photos of The Honeydrips: