I don't think I've ever seen someone use an echo pedal as a comedic prop before. And yet that's exactly what Sondre Lerche did on Tuesday night at the Bowery Ballroom. You rarely count on humor from musicians with such earnest lyrics.
Touring in support of his newly-released album Heartbeat Radio, he exuded confidence and excitement as he debuted songs such as the catchy title track and "I Guess It's Gonna Rain Today" alongside older favorites like "Two Way Monologue" and "Days That Are Over." As he switched back and forth between a Gretsch hollow body and an acoustic guitar, he played both instruments with verve and versatility, covering up occasional mistakes with quips and non-sequiturs: "Try to look cool and you'll end up with an out of tune guitar and a broken heart."
In faded jeans and a plaid shirt he did in fact look cool and seemed comfortable on stage, pausing at one point to casually run a hand through hair and inquire about what the audience had "been up to." Judging by the number of Norwegian bands passing through New York this month, I'm guessing that many Scandinavians spent their summer vacations honing their musical chops. I missed my chance to see Kings of Convenience tonight, but I do still plan to catch Hanne Hukkelberg, an artist I wrote about for a forthcoming issue of Nordic Reach.
She was bewitching when she stopped in Brooklyn on her first US tour last year, but I must admit, I appreciate performers that don't take themselves too seriously. And I'd put Sondre in that camp now. "I contemplated playing that 'She Wolf' song tonight," he admitted at one point in his set, "then I realized it was no good without the video."
Photo of Sondre Lerche by Isabell N. Wedin