Monday, March 17, 2008

Hipster Pants and Intense Sincerity

Eager to embrace our first night at SXSW, we ran to Cedar Door to catch LA dance-rockers Iglu & Hartly. Each of the band members had taken special care to wear the tightest pants they could find – one of the lead singers donning brilliant orange ones topped with a low-cut top featuring cartoon drawings and exposing an impossibly hairy chest. Despite their seemingly constricted legs, they were ready to rock the crowd and justly did so with electro strains and a rapping style borrowed from Mickey Avalon.

It was a 180 degree turn then, to walk into Mohawk Patio for the mellow stylings of Wisconsin’s Bon Iver. With songs infused with a genuine pain and far-reaching vocals, the group tried to woo the crowd into chanting “what might have been lost” before the drummer lost his mind and broke out the intense beats.

It was a packed house at Mohawk, but the crowd was there for one reason: Jens. With a full band, including a tiny Tinkerbell of a bassist, a bongo player, fiddler, cellist, and electronic mix-master, Jens Lekman gave a rousing performance, himself alternating between guitar and keyboard. He did a stellar version of “A Postcard to Nina” – complete with full story details further explaining the song, and let the mix-master work in the chorus line from Chairmen of the Board’s “Give Me Just a Little More Time” on “The Opposite of Hallelujah.” The Swedish sensation is definitely here to stay.

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