El Perro Del Mar/Lykke Li/Anna Termheim
Schubas – Chicago, IL
Acoustic songstress Anna Termheim deemed the May 12 performance at Schubas an exclusively Swedish night of music, which is pretty much guaranteed to be a good thing within the realms of indie-pop. Her opening slot preceded Stockholm’s Lykke Li and Gothenburg’s El Perro Del Mar, providing 8 mostly straightforward ballads using guitar, piano, and the iPod.
Anna’s performance was not the type that would trigger huge reactions; however, there was certainly nothing to argue with. Her David Bowie cover, “China Girl,” worked seamlessly into her set sonically, though lyrically her songs are much more down to earth than Mr. Bowie. Her Swedish accent was just the subtle twist that made her set memorable and effective, which was illustrated when she told the audience, “I hear in Chicago we should get double-pizza, is that right,” which spawned great laughter when the crowd realized she meant ‘deep-dish pizza.’ While the intimate Schubas’ set-up lends itself to attentive, responsive fans, this night’s attendants were especially intelligent and informed; ready with song requests at Anna’s command. Anna’s set got better as she progressed because her songs began to sink in and her later song selections were plain better. Before her last song she thanked the crowd, “Thank you for listening and being so quiet [to which she clarified], polite.”
Lykke Li and her band turned it up for the live act to a surprising degree. In my interview with Lykke Li hours before the show, she was dressed pretty ordinarily and quietly told me that things were simply “good” besides for back pains and a cold. Our chat gave absolutely no insight into what her live performance would be like. To the sound of crashing, pounding drums, the elegantly dressed Lykke Li began her unforgettable set with a more rock-tinged rendition of “Dance Dance Dance.” Between very impressive dancing (she’s a trained dancer) and flawless singing, Lykke also brought drumming aid, keyboard-playing, and a string of instruments she wore around her neck to her first ever Chicago performance.
El Perro Del Mar
“Let It Fall” followed, and “My Love,” the first of four songs performed with Sarah of El Perro Del Mar, came next. Forceful drumming lead the hard-at-work four-piece behind Lykke, whose set remained as strong as it started throughout the set with every song sounding single-worthy, finishing with: “Hanging High,” the bonus-track “Tonight,” the show highlight “Little Bit,” and the amazing breakdown during the finale, “I’m Good, I’m Gone.”
That wouldn’t be the last of Lykke Li for the night, however. Sarah began the El Perro portion of the night with the solo numbers “Party,” which boasted notable whistling, and Dog;” both songs for her debut. She then switched gears with the jazzy, full-band performance of “How Did We Forget?” from the April release, From the Valley to the Stars. El Perro kept the mood pretty upbeat, with “Do Not Despair” and the subdued “Inner Island” being the exceptions, choosing “I Can’t Talk About It,” “Glory To The World,” “Somebody’s Baby,” “You Can’t Steal A Gift,” “God Knows,” and the incredible Wendy Rene cover, “After Laughter,” (which I’ve been listening to that song all day). Even the middle-ground songs, “Shake It Off” and “Someday (I Will Understand),” a show highlight found on a 2005 EP, were a little peppier. Unfortunately “Sad” “Coming Down the Hill,” and “Candy” were not performed, however in retrospect, these songs may have been too much of a let down after Lykke Li’s build-up, and I certainly had no problems with the selections made (especially considering I haven’t been too intrigued by much from the new Valley yet).
El Perro Del Mar
Although Lykke Li claims that the slew of great Swedish acts are mostly coincidental, all three acts gave fans something intangibly more in addition to this most memorable night in music. Check back soon for video footage from the performance.