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American Analog Set at the Bottom of the Hill and Jens Lekman at the Rickshaw Stop

Filed under: — adrian @ 3:17 am

Over the weekend I went to two concerts in as many days. I was going to make it three concerts (at three venues) in four days by going to see the Rachel’s at Great American Tuesday night, but I am sick so I gave it a skip.

Saturday was Jens Lekman at The Rickshaw Stop. It was my first trip to the Rickshaw Stop. Right around the corner from the Opera House, the facade is not marked as the Rickshaw Stop and if I had not known where to look, I probably wouldn’t have found it. Inside it’s a fairly small space with high ceilings and a two-level balacony/ mezzanine level in the back. There are, aptly, three or four rickshaws which you can sit in around the place in addition to a number of chairs and couches.

Nedelle from Oakland, was touring with and opened for Jens. She plays nylon-string (classical) guitar and sings. The guitar style is fingerpicked, mostly folky or poppy but sometimes with some pretty jazzy chord changes. Because of the very clear sound of her guitar and her voice, I was reminded a bit of Joanna Newsome, but without the annoying. Her songs were pleasant enough, but what really won me over was when she introduced Smokey Robinson song—”The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game”, recorded by the Marvelettes—and invited us to clap along rhythmically (not just on the downbeats) during the chorus.

Jens and his band played/ sang on a few of Nedelle’s songs. After about a fifteen minute break, they came on for their own set. Jens played mostly guitar and his band added cello, violin, bass guitar, drums and keyboard. Nedelle also added guitar and harmony to some songs. Jens is a Swede and apparently he’s been to #2 on the Swedish pop charts, so he’s a genuine pop star over there. He’s got a wonderful baritone voice (that often gets him compared to Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields) and an often-over-the-top pop songwriting style that just makes me smile. He often samples obscure records that he finds at rummage sales.

Jens Lekman – Black Cab
Jens Lekman – Maple Leaves
Jens Lekman – The Opposite of Hallelujah [I’m hosting this one so I’ll probably only leave it up for a week or so. Download now if you want it.]

I’ve linked mostly upbeat over-the-top pop numbers here but he has his share of softer/ sadder songs too.

Anyway back to the show. They started out with a song that had the lyrics “We’re all going to die/ We’re all going to die/ Don’t know how/ Don’t know why” repeated. Rather than be some dirge or sad song The whole group was singing this joyfully and Jens was marching around the stage and blowing a whistle between songs. There were points when Jens would unplug his ukulele and walk out to the edge of the stage to sing without amplification, accompaniment or a microphone. He did this for “Julia” and “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill.” During the encore he was playing a song on just uke and walked through the audience to one of the couches in the back and stood on it while continuing his song. He stopped right before one of the verses and asked if he could stand on the table in front of the couch. When someone shouted yes, he got onto the table and finished his song. He told funny stories, for example about he and a friend wanting to buy a small Swedish village. I really liked “The Opposite of Hallelujah.” They could sing the chorus from that all night long, for all I am concerned. The encore closed with an amazingly tender version of “Cold Swedish Winter” with Jens playing what he called a kalimba (but what looked more like an mbira to me) accompanied by bass, cello and violin.

Jens is swell. This new collection of songs he put out You’re So Silent Jens has a few EPs on it plus some of the album tracks. I’d recommend it.

On Sunday I saw American Analog Set at the Bottom of the Hill. This is apparently their last tour.

Gumbeaux and I got there in time for the first opening band. They were fine, but I really wish we hadn’t; my back hurt a ton by 12:30am or whenever the concert finished. The second opening band was sort of boring. In the mean time I picked up the new AmAnSet CD and another poster by Jason at The Small Stakes (it’s currently the first on the page— the safety pin holding the two hearts together).

I’d seen AmAnSet a couple years ago at TT the Bears but had forgotten most of the details of the performance. The set was really solid of course, with a nice selection of songs. They did nice versions of “The Postman”, “Hard to Find” and (as an encore) “Punk as Fuck.” Andrew Kenney seemed really nice, responding to people shouting out from the audience and making a point of telling the first opening band that they did a good set and that they should find him after the show.

American Analog Set – Hard to Find

4 Responses to “American Analog Set at the Bottom of the Hill and Jens Lekman at the Rickshaw Stop”

  1. ipickmynose » new Jens Lekman (Scout Niblett cover) Says:

    […] I think Jens Lekman is swell. Coming up soon, April 24, Jens’ American label, Secretly Canadian is releasing their one hundredth release, appropriately called SC100. They aren’t phoning this one either; they’re doing something special for it. The 18 tracks each have one Secretly Canadian artist covering another SC artist. Damien Jurado covering Early Day Miners, Dave Fischoff covering Damien Jurado, Danielson covering Dave Fischoff. (I don’t think it makes a full circle in that pattern, though). I was particularly excited about the Jens Lekman song on it, a cover of the Scout Niblett song “Your Beat Kicks Like Death” which is a depressing song does in an almost jubilant style by Jens. He preforms it live and has been for at least a year and a half. It sticks out in my mind from the last time I saw him in San Francisco, at the Rickshaw Stop. […]

  2. ipickmynose: an SF-centric indie music blog » best of 2007: releases (albums, EPs, box sets) Says:

    […] say something like “Yup, Jens is still the king of over-the-top Swedish pop.” I’d already heard the album’s best effort, “Opposite of Hallelujah”, so I unfortunately […]

  3. ipickmynose: an SF-centric indie music blog » free AmAnSet Set Free demos Says:

    […] band is effectively done now–I saw their last tour in 2005. That’s really a shame and I loved their last three albums. Singer and songwriter can now be […]

  4. ipickmynose: an SF-centric indie music blog » the best showman in indie rock? jens lekman, tig notaro @ bottom of the hill Says:

    […] seen Jens a few times before (including at the Bottom of the Hill last year). In the last couple years, it’s clear […]

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