Toronto – The last time I went to a concert featuring Swedish New Wavers The Sound, it was 2004 and they had been riding a large wave of popularity based on their hit song “Livng in America”. It was at Horseshoe and I remember the show being pretty good. I haven’t really followed the band since, so it was to a large surprise when a few days ago I was invited to see their show at the Phoenix on Sunday in promotion of their latest album – Crossing The Rubicon. I was surprised that
a) they are still around,
b) they have an album out
c) they could play the Phoenix, a medium size venue.
Well, it turns out that they probably couldn’t play the Phoenix, as it was also the same night of the MTV’s Video Music Awards. Normally, this wouldn’t effect most bands, but given the sound of the new material, perhaps a large demographic of the crowd missing was at home watching Kanye West make an ass of himself once again.
On to the concert – I arrived at 10:15 and was surprised to find that the Sounds were already on stage and had played around 3 songs already. The Phoenix was about half full, and I was amazed – I haven’t heard of the Sounds in so long, and here was this dedicated fan base singing along to every song they had. Who are these people? It was surprisingly an olderish crowd, but there were some younger people, even kids. I think I spent the first 1/2 hour of the concert trying to figure out what type of people The Sounds appealed to. I still haven’t figured it out. Yet, one thing is for sure, they have built up a dedicated fan base. Most people there knew the lyrics to most of the songs, and there were people who even danced to each track. I’m not talking about head bobbin, shoulder shakin concert dance, I mean all out “you are at a wedding with all your friends and an open bar kinda” dance. It was definitely interesting.
The band itself…well, the Sounds definitely look like a band. All the male band members are borderline anorexic and appear to spend about an hour fixing their hair every morning and lead singer Maja Ivarsson was wearing a tiny Adidas hoodie and really really really short shorts. As a lead, she was moderately engaging, often yelling out “Toooooooroonnnto” and telling everyone that she wanted to turn the concert into a dance floor. I guess given the fact that it was a Sunday night and the venue was half full, I would say she put in a concrete effort in her call and response routine. Gary thought she had two dance moves, but I couldn’t really figure out what was a dance move.
As for the tunes, well I would say this – I still think that “Living in America” is their top song, but I haven’t had a good chance to listen to other songs yet. I definitely am not a big fan of the slower numbers. The beginning of the set saw them comfortably settling into a MTV-esque pop rock genre of music, I could see any of those songs as part of a soundtrack on a show like “The Hills” where Lauren Conrad and Brody Jenner would exchange awkward stares at each other. Some of the lyrics are like:
Don’t want hurt you
Try not to fuck with your feelings
It’s just a matter of trust, for us, for lust
It just screams of something a 14 year old girl would post on her facebook status and then think of it as some sort of “deep” and “dark” poetry. I don’t know. At about the half an hour mark, I was more or less ready to leave and go home and watch the rest of the Green Bay/Chicago game. There was a brief smoking break for the band at this point, and perhaps feeling the non-enthusiasm of the crowd, the band came back on to the stage and played a bunch more new wavy-synth drenched rock, which I have to say, I enjoyed a decent amount.
Overall, it was a mixed bag of a concert for me, the early part was a bit dull, but the last bit of the 90 minute set was some new wave goodness. Everyone else in the crowd seemed to have a good time, and really, that is probably all that matters.