Friday, October 24, 2008
CMJ Festival: Swedes invade the LES
Tobias Froberg and Teresa Anderson Live @ The Living Room, October 22nd, 2008
What a night for the Swedes! I must start this post by briefly venting about the CMJ Festival. Usually this time of year I am so overwhelmed by the volume of musicians playing the stages of the CMJ fest that I end up not seeing any. CMJ is by far New York's largest music festival each year; commadeering virtually every square foot of stage in Manhattan. This year the band count amounted to about 1,100 different acts. There are Official CMJ shows, unofficial CMJ shows, secret CMJ shows, official CMJ after-parties, and shows that are so indie they're not official or unofficial CMJ shows, they're just plain concerts.
Typically there are so many freakin concerts that it's daunting just choosing a place to go. Luckily for me, I had guidance to make this important decision. My girlfriend works for a PR company called Girlie Action, which represents a Swede by the name of Teresa Anderson. She brings to mind hints of Kaki King, Joni Mitchell, and Keller Williams. She has a pedal board that puts The Edge's rig to shame, and a suitcase full of instruments like drums, guitars, a dobro, and a turntable.
Anderson begins each song by building a bed of musical and rythmic loops which she brings in and out under her powerful, soulful voice. She then proceeds to stack layers of vocal harmonies that she controls with various foot pedals layed out in front of her. To get an idea of what i'm talking about, check out the video below of Teresa in her Kitchen. Teresa's performance was, in-all, a very insipring 50 minutes. The highlight was the last song, an a capella version of CSNY's "Find the Cost of Freedom" in which she layered about 4 or 5 counterpuntal vocal harmonies over each other. As I looked around at the audience after she ended, many were in tears. No joke.
Teresa's opener was someone new to me, a guy by the name of Tobias Froberg. I arrived at the Living Room about half way though Tobias's set, and was pleasantly suprised by his music. Honestly, it's not often that you stumble upon someone amazing in New York. That may be hard to believe to outsiders. Think of it like living in a sea full of every kind of fish, and you only want sashimi grade. More often that not you're gunna get the guppies. But, every once in a while, you find that toro tuna and it tastes so good.
Tobias was my tuna that evening. He went back and forth between guitar and piano throughout the set, although he seemed most comfortable with the ole gitbox. He mostly finger-picked, which gave a transient bed for his warm comforting voice to soar above. I couldn't help but draw comparisons to Kings of Convenience, being that both acts are Scandinavian and both draw on 60's folk for their harmonic inspiration.
Between songs Tobias engaged the audience with some frightfully witty banter. Although some jokes were directed at the large number of Swedes in the audience, most proved to make the performance a very intimate and inviting one indeed. The highlights of his set were the last two songs, during which of few of his female collaborators (Teresa included) sang backing harmonies. Those songs sounded much like the music of Simon and Garfunkel, but with more relevant lyrics and a "hipster" sensibility.
I highly recommend checking out each of their records. Here is a path to lead you to them:
click here for Teresa Anderson
click here Tobias Froberg
Here is Theresa in her Kitchen jamming out