May 8th, 2008 - Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY - El Perro Del Mar/Lykke Li/Anna Ternheim
Review and Images by Dominick Mastrangelo
There's always an awkward moment during a show when you realize that the support act was really the better act. For me, this happened about three songs into El Perro Del Mar's set at the sold out Bowery Ballroom last Thursday. A half an hour hadn't passed since Lykke Li left the stage and I and the people around me toward the front of the ballroom knew it. Perhaps it was the pre-show buzz, perhaps we weren't expecting Lykke Li to come out with a stage presence so commanding and fully formed or perhaps EPDM's Sarah Assbring was just a little off her game.
But one thing was very clear, Lykke Li is the real deal. Mixing her new US Little Bit EP with her Swedish full-length release Youth Novels, Lykke Li brought hand claps, bull horns, disco and a host of other goodies to get everyone dancing. Or as much as a room full of hipsters will allow themselves to dance. Opening, perfectly enough, with the song "Dance Dance Dance" (mp3) she strutted across the stage, threw her head back, leaned on the mic stand as the rhythmic drumming echoed across the ballroom and she sang "When I'm shaking my hips, look for the swing, the words are written in the air."
"I'm good, I'm gone" with it's creeping piano and her breathy delivery as she crouched over as if passing trade secrets to those in the front row and "Little Bit" with a heavier bass line than the recorded version perpetuated the feel-good atmosphere. She also proved she could slow it down with the ballad "Tonight." She pushed every bit of emotion into the repeated chorus, "Won't you let me go, let me go tonight."
But the highlight of the show was the encore. With both bands taking the stage Assbring and Lykke Li performed in perfect girl group tandem a sped up version of Wendy Rene's "After Laughter (Come Tears)" each taking turns on lead vocals before falling back into formation for the chorus.
Fellow Swede, Anna Ternheim, opened with hushed, beautiful, confessional songs that hearkened to Beth Orton (You Mean Nothing to Me Anymore) as well as slipping in a great version of David Bowie's "China Girl." Her new album, Halfway to Fivepoints was just released in the US a couple weeks back. "The Swedish are taking over," she announced a couple songs into her set.
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