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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, October 4

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Review Thu Oct 06 2011

Review: Jens Lekman @ Lincoln Hall 10/3/11

There are some musicians whose physical look and presence live shocks you based on their studio sound. Jens Lekman is not one of those people. He looks exactly like the soft-spoken indie pop Swede I imagined. This was perfectly lovely for me and the indie crowd who packed the Lincoln Hall on Monday night with a their disproportionate amount of black-rimmed glasses and flannel.

Like all truly great Scandinavian indie-pop-singing storytellers, Jens has maintained a moderately sized and loyal U.S. following despite only releasing one five- track EP since 2007. His fan base has grown large enough to sell out Lincoln Hall on a Monday night with the space even filling up for a not well-known Australian opener, Geoffrey O'Connor.

Geoffrey O'Connor (photos by Scott Mason)

Although O'Connor bears a slight physical similarity to the fair-skinned Lekman, his stage presence could be the antithesis to the Jens Lekman experience. O'Connor is purposefully jittery and slightly awkward on stage, getting tangled in chords but never quite falling. His set was reminiscent of really really good '80s karaoke complete with a smoke machine, love ballads and a few stops to pose for pictures. His songs were easily relatable and sweet, like a teenager's diary, but all around the crowd was not convinced and clapped almost politely when the Aussie's set was over, appreciating the effort but not quite the delivery.

Photo by Scott Mason

There was a noticeable difference when Jens Lekman took the stage and filled the hall with a familiar ease and energy. He performed a stripped down version of his music with only a drummer to accompany him and, for one song, soliciting help from an audience member with the tambourine. From tales of stalking Kirsten Dunst to breaking up drunken brawls, Jens weaved from story to story with a witty dry humor most can't pull off even in written word and yet Jens sings it with a bite of tangible truth. His stories so engrossed the crowd that there were strings of shoosh whenever an audience member wasn't paying due attention to the 21st century fables being taught from the stage.

It is true that many of Jens Lekmans songs appear almost silly such as one of his most popular "An Argument with Myself" where Jens regales the crowd with the drunken discourse in his head one night. "Shut up, no, you shut up! What's the matter, take a number, Buttercup! Every time I hear you say 'Fuck it' I would remind you of the photo in your pocket." But the performer is not just singing silly songs; he is constructing a lesson-learned fable that is more open and honest than most artists today who talk vaguely about emotions in the 3rd person. He is both charmingly pleased with himself yet beautifully self-deprecating and one of the only performers able to sing "fuck" without a twinge of vulgarity.

Jens Lekman e(photo by Scott Mason)

But perhaps most impressive about his music is its effect on the crowd which not only packed Lincoln Hall but watched the show intently through an encore. Afterwards, someone from the crowd yelled "Thank you, Jens!" and in true Swedish fashion, the singer smiled and politely said, "You're welcome."

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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.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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