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Thursday, December 14

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Review Wed Mar 07 2007

Show Review: El Perro Del Mar @ Lakeshore Theater, Tue. March 6

Scandanavia has been making the indie music scene all hot and bothered for the last couple of years. Under Byen, The Concretes, Jens Lekman, Peter Bjorn and John, Love is All, and The Sounds are just a few from that seemingly never-ending list of blog-buzzed bands originating from around the Baltic. Last year, Sarah Assbring (real last name) rocketed up that list with a bang as her first stateside LP, the self-titled El Perro Del Mar, brought her soft pop adoration. What with this stage name translating into "the sea dog" and her sound combining the best of '50s radio and '60's doo-wap, I have always imagined her as a fan of traditional dance number "Salty Dog," not just because Cat Power's cover paved the way for indie buzz but also because of its throwback sensibility - it's just a classic number that seems to fit a deserving chanteuse. I had noticed her small US tour would include Chicago and so I set up shop at Lakeshore Theater last night to see how the American '50s would sound through the experience of a 21st-century Swede.

After opening married pop duo The Submarines had cleared the stage (unfortunately I missed their performance), Sarah emerged from behind the curtain dressed in tunic, black leggings, and red pumps, grabbed her acoustic, and began channeling her subdued diva persona through a short new song. The accompaniment was simple, but the vocals were delicate and beautiful. After she finished, three suited men took the stage in a nice reverse of Jens Lekman's Pitchfork Festival band, and filled out the remainder of Sarah's set with two guitars, occasional bass, background vocals, and Hammond organ. After the opener the next seven songs were off of El Perro Del Mar, and Sarah and her band bathed the audience with continuous waves of contemplative retro-pop. "Party" and "Dog" brought out some of Sarah's best vocals and constantly shifting kapo, and "People" and "This Loneliness" were like lazy lullabies. The audience was disappointingly sparse for the venue, but those who were there stayed respectful the entire show. Most likely, Sarah's hazy voice kept them quiet and no doubt in awe. Her stage banter was nonexistent which, in some ways, helped to further keep the crowd under her music's spell. The reverie state was broken only twice, as both "I Can't Talk About It" and fan favorite "God Knows" were aided by a pre-recorded orchestral accompaniment for Sarah and her boys that, while expanding the sound extensively and staying true to '50s diva aesthetics, seemed too forced alongside the quieter power of the rest of their performance. Her last number of the set was another new track entitled "Hello Goodbye" (no relation to the Beatles track) which featured only these words: "A boy, a girl, hello, goodbye" juxtaposed in such a way as to tell a nice little story about heartbreak. The set seemed short and the impassioned applause of the audience was rewarded with a three song encore that included another new solo acoustic song, album center-piece "Coming Down the Hill," and an extended re-working of the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason." Sarah's precious quotation of Lou Reed's promise of "what comes is better than what came before" at the end of the set was, I hope, a forecast for her future.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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