Kings of Convenience played in DC last night, supported by a Californian band they hand-picked to tour with them called "Franklin For Short". This was the definition of a "feel good" event, and here are, in detail, the reasons why:
Erlend Øye from KOC introduces himself and then Franklin For Short, telling the audience that they chose Franklin because they play beautiful music and are nice people. If you are unfamiliar with concerts, I'll tell you that the main act NEVER addresses the audience before and about the supporting act.
Franklin For Short play beautiful, unpretentious folk-y music, which, sadly, their recordings on Myspace don't do any justice to (BUT, do please check out my favourite song of theirs from last night called "Kaleidoscope Eyes" here. It reminds me of beach-front summers in Australia. "Until the Twilight" is also very beautiful, if you can find it). The lead singer thanks KOC for a wonderful tour and all members of Franklin stop tuning their guitars to clap and nod their heads in agreement with him.
Franklin wraps up and tells the loudly cheering audience to check out their new record, which he is proud to call a "record", because it is, in fact, a record.
9:32pm (2 mins after the scheduled time of performance)
The Norwegian duo come out, pick up a guitar each, and apologize for making us wait. They play a beautiful acoustic set which lasts about 40 minutes and sounds identical to their recordings. In fact, Eirik Bøe, the lead singer and more serious King of Convenience, sang with so much precision that it was kind of eerie, albeit beautiful. The experience was not unlike the feeling one gets in Scandanavia or in/around Scandanavian surroundings--everything is so organised and at such a high qualitative standard that it is simultaneously breathtaking and borderline mechanical and unsettling. I guess I am suggesting that perhaps it is a cultural peculiarity to strive to perform as closely to a recording as possible. I haven't seen and heard enough Scandanvian musicians to conclude affirmatively.
Øye, the goofier "King", was quite chatty and alternated between guitar and piano, periodically dancing flailingly around the stage. Moreso once Franklin joined them on stage to play more upbeat songs like "I'd Rather Dance With You".
Audience cheers and claps for an encore, and the duo oblige, reverting back to the sombre songs "Misread" and "Homesick". Øye calls Franklin back on stage to play a song they had been trying out as an encore song but hadn't performed yet, and the two bands nail Simon and Garfunkel's "You Can Call Me Al". All members of both bands stand in a line with their arms around each other to bow for the cheering crowd. They seem so fraternal together that it feels to me like they are best of friends that do things like cook together and call each other up for girl advice. (For a description by Franklin of how they met, read here.)
Øye thanks the audience for being the best audience on the tour yet, and as a reward, announces that he will DJ for an hour or two if we all stick around. A third of the audience clear out, but the venue still feels quite full.
The stage is cleared and a laptop and mixing deck are brought out. Øye's first song is Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster Stronger". The drummer and lead singer from Franklin join him on stage and the three jump around while the crowd goes wild and lets loose with them. Bøe has disppeared it seems, and is nowhere to be seen for the rest of the evening.
Other songs played included Phoenix's "If I Ever Feel Better", a Prince song I don't know, more Simon and Garfunkel, and Cee-Lo's "I Wish". At the end of each song, Øye had everyone clap til the next song started in order to detract from the fact that there was no mixing of the songs. The last song he played, before handing over to Franklin's drummer, he introduced as "the song of 2009" and instructed that the lights be completely out for. The audienced swayed and sang along to Beyonce's "Halo", while Øye sang along on the mic and asked for "strobe lights!" at the dramatic end.
Jared and I left shortly after Franklin's drummer took over. Walking to our car, we noticed Øye walking out of the venue alone, across the road, and behind some parked cars on the street. He sat in the gutter with his head in his hands. He was unresponsive when people in front of us yelled out "BYE!!!", only lifting his head and then dropping it down again. I stopped in front of him on the other side of the road, perplexed as to why he seemed so down when minutes before, he was hopping about the stage.
On our way home, we brainstormed reasons why he may have needed alone time, including coming down from drugs, but dismissed it disbelievingly.