Jens Lekman - Hollywood Forever Masonic Lodge - September 28, 2011
Better than ... seeing Jens Lekman at the Mondrian, where he played on his last trip to L.A.
Last night Jens Lekman played Hollywood Forever's Mason Lodge, the kick-off show for Gothernburg's top musical export's month-long U.S./European tour in support of his new EP. Crayon Fields frontman Geoffrey O'Connor opened the show with a set full of synth-driven romantic pop songs, reminiscent of old Lucksmiths tracks crossed with strains of Roxy Music, which briefly held the attention of the crowd who were anxiously waiting for Lekman.
"Hi, my name is Jens Lekman, and I'm feeling really great tonight," said the Swedish indie pop singer after he got on stage. "That is actually really worrying, because I usually feel terrible before the first show of a tour," he added with a smile. Backed by a drummer and a 404, he played an all-acoustic set of witty love-lorn laments with an amusing tale to accompany almost every song.
He opened with the title track of his new An Argument With Myself EP, a tour of the central business district of Melbourne, Australia, where a trial is going on in the courthouse of his mind about a failing relationship. Paul Simon's influence is heavy here (Lekman's done a fantastic cover of "You Can Call Me Al" on past tours) as is the Talking Heads' ("Nothing But Flowers" grooves surface throughout the song). There's something incredibly charming about hearing the seemingly shy Lekman sing, "Shut up! No, you shut up! Fuck you! No, you fuck you!"
He followed with another track off of the new EP, "Waiting for Kirsten." Lekman introduced the song with an adorable story about how he tried to track down his crush Kirsten Dunst when she was filming in Gothenburg. "I decided to give up all my dignity and stalk her for a night," he admitted with a sheepish smile. He showed up at the bar she was supposed to be, but his friend who was DJing that night told him that Dunst couldn't get in because Gothenburg is the only city in the world that doesn't have VIP lines. "What's a poor potato chip factory boy to do?" he sighed. "I thought I'd turn this complicated string of events into a song." It turns out, however, that 'Waiting for Kirsten,'" extends beyond his love of the Spiderman star to a comment on Swedish politics.
Two older songs from Lekman's 2005 compilation album Oh You're So Silent Jens followed, "I Saw Her In The Anti-War Demonstration" and "A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill." Though the latter would seem best played live by a full backing band with a sizable horn section, Lekman got everyone in the audience to dance to a very bare-bones rendition backed by sparse drum beats.
"I sacrificed a little dignity so I could win some more," Lekman said as he introduced another a new song about a time when he tried to break up a fight. He had promised himself that if he saw something happen he'd get involved, but when the situation arose, he squealed like a twelve year old.
He next sang that he wanted some boots to take him "anywhere but back to you" in the crushingly sad love song "Cowboy Boots."
A slowed down rendition of "Black Cab" came next; he said it was the most beautiful version he had ever done. Next was a song about the massive golden key hanging around his neck, which bled into "The Opposite of Hallelujah." This last track sent the otherwise-calm crowd into a frenzy, with girls from the front row climbing on the stage to dance with Lekman. He looked pleased, if slightly confused, to have the company.
"We were supposed to leave and come back," Lekman said, "but we can't because the crowd is in the way." Changing up the pace, he closed with two slower, somber numbers: "Every Little Hair Knows Your Name," a song he premiered earlier this year at a show protesting the widespread closures of UK libraries, and "And I Remember Every Kiss," a standout from his sophomore album Night Falls Over Kortedala. Applause erupted from every corner of the Masonic Lodge as Lekman ended his all-too-short set.
"Thank you so much," he said. "You can bury me now."
The Crowd: Young and fashionable.
Personal Bias: It was a very nostalgic evening; Lekman reminds me of living with my best friend during my freshman year of college in upstate New York.
Random Notebook Dump: Overheard in the crowd: "Indiest graveyard since Harold and Maude."
Set list and another picture below.