Saturday, May 31, 2008

Efterklang + Slaraffenland = More Danes Than You Can Fit in a Phonebooth

This past Tuesday, with some apprehension, I journeyed to the tangled reaches of the Hamden urban wilderness to witness the inaugural landing of the Danish collective on Connecticut shores. The aforementioned lads from Denmark comprised two bands: Efterklang and the much more difficult to pronounce Slaraffenland.

The show was at The Space, a wee little used-to-be-an-office-building-but-is-now-a-music-venue on the Hamden/New Haven border. Because so many of the people I know register high on the "I'm a lame-ass" scale, I found myself flying solo to this affair; hence my original apprehension at even bothering to go. Nevertheless, I grit my teeth and persevered through the night, alone (it wasn't bad at all, and I've done it before on a few occasions).

The opening band, whose name escapes me, was really fucking terrible. I guess they were trying to present some sort of gloomy goth rock front, but it did not work at all. Their songs, which consisted of a heavily distorted, repetitive four chords (all of them minor of course) played on constant repeat, while a bearded fellow banged out an ultra-slow beat on a two-piece drum kit. Oh, there was some sort of xylophone too...and fox masks...whatever, fuck it. It was BAD.

Luckily, Slaraffenland (who I had not heard previously) impressed me instantly as soon as they started their set. I knew I was in the "good shit" neck of the woods as soon as I saw them unpacking a trombone and a clarinet - seriously, how can that go wrong? Their vocals are all about the band as a group; everyone sings, and it has this amazing choir-like quality to it, a factor which is amplified many times over in a live performance. The high-energy climax of their set was when the band members handed out some tambourines and drumsticks into the audience, and started up one serious freak out, culminating in two of the band members running around the venue with drumsticks, banging out a crazy rhythm on any object they could get to.

Efterkland was equally as impressive, crowding eight members onto a very tiny, very cramped stage. Their music, which is sprawling and ethereal on record, did not suffer at all; it retained all the soaring, echoing mysticism that it has on the album. It's hard to describe their performance, save to say it was a truly hypnotic experience. The acid-enthusiast in front of me also seemed to think so, and half my fun at the show came from watching his stoned reaction to the music. That dude was fucking IN IT.

They played "Mirador" as a final encore, and it was worth the price of admission (which, by the way, was a meager $8 for all this whimsy) just to hear that song live. There's a video for it you know, which can be found here.

To sum it all up, if you have the chance to see these fellows on their US tour, then you'd best do it.

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