Our pal Oren won tickets through bLA to the El Perro del Mar / Lykke Li / Anna Ternheim show the other night at the El Rey. We asked him to write a review. So here y’all go, in Oren’s own words:
Thanks again for the tickets to the Three Swedish Songstresses show last night at the El Rey. I didn’t know a lot about any of these artists before going, so I didn’t have much in the way of expectations. I did, however, hope for a crowd filled with leggy blonde Scandinavian vixens. Alas, El Perro et al. have a following that looks a lot like the Cha Cha Lounge on a Monday night, which is to say that I should have worn my vintage sneakers with the Pacman ghost pattern on them. Like that one kid. Who was not a blonde vixen at all.
Actually the best part of the crowd was that there were tons of Asians. To my left was a row of three big, muscular Japanese-looking dudes with angular glasses and just enough facial hair, standing with their arms folded and nodding along to the music. Is there some mysterious El Perro Del Mar/Asian connection, much like the Morrissey/Latino connection? I like it when artists have a surprising following – I wonder if it’s surprising to them too.
Anyway, the music. I only caught the last song and a half of Anna Ternheim and was not impressed. Lykke Li, on the other hand, is kind of a badass. Unlike a lot of indie kids, she is actually a performer. Danced her ass off. She has this vibe of your one friend who has firm but loving advice for everyone and is not afraid to hurt people’s feelings giving it out. She’d be an awesome mom. We were in good hands. She wants to put on a good show and isn’t afraid to bust out the kazoo or megaphone to make the kids go crazy (her band was having fun too). The songwriting is pretty strong too – I actually remember a couple of the tunes the day after.
El Perro Del Mar is a completely different animal – shy, awkward, sometimes almost painful to watch. I wasn’t buying it at first – I’ve seen enough depressed singer-songwriters working out their issues through their music. It didn’t help that her band looked like they didn’t want to be there. But as she got further into the set, she seemed to dig deeper into herself, past the darkness, to find a hopefulness and yearning joy that was genuinely moving. When she sang “Glory, glory, glory to the world”, it sounded like a dirge, but it felt like the truth, and I loved her for it.
One pet peeve: I get that artists these days are going to play to a track, but can’t you be more subtle about it? Twice in Lykke Li’s set, the main chorus hook was sung by a pre-recorded choir, with Lykke providing ad libbed responses. It totally drained the energy out of the moment – instead of enjoying the big sing-along chorus, I was looking around to figure out where these phantom voices were. It didn’t help that the drummer was exaggeratedly mouthing the words along with the track, as if all those voices could come out of his mouth if he just made it big enough.
Much love to b.la for the tix!!