It was a good ten minutes before my eyes adjusted enough so that I could see anything inside Luna Lounge who seemed to be conserving energy (or avoid turning on the AC) by keep the lights as low as possible. I was initially wandering around with my arms stretched out like Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark hoping I walk into a table or trip over someone’s bag.
So it went at Sunday afternoon’s installment of the NYC Popfest festival which was a good time despite some annoyances. Not only was it ridiculously dark in Luna Lounge, the guys doing sound treated the show as if it was Punkfest, cranking the volume despite there being only about 70 people there for most of it.
I’ll stop complaining. The show was an international affair, well worth the steep $18 admission price. The main event for me was the first-ever US performance of Swede Pelle Carlberg whose new album, In a Nutshell, his been getting a lot of play from me of late. With expert help from Henrick Nilsson who not only played bass and sang back-up but also played drums of a sort — a kick drum pedal against a suitcase with one foot, a tambourine with the other — the snazzily-dressed Carlberg charmed just about everyone there with his Belle & Sebastian-ish pop.
While the somewhat short set skipped current single "I Love You You Imbecile," we did get a phenomenal cover of Elton John’s "Rocket Man" as well as two of my favorite songs off the new album — "Middleclass Kid" and the wordily-titled "Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls." When he announced the latter’s title, a girl standing next to me exclaimed "Ohmigod, that’s so true!"
Punkphoto got some great shots (including the one at the top of this page, plus video of "Rocketman" which I also shot but didn’t bother to upload to Youtube because it was so damn dark in the club. (You can see it much clearer but in a lesser performance here from a February show in Italy.) Pelle Carlberg plays the Delancey this Saturday. I highly recommend you check out the show.
MP3: Pelle Carlberg – Middleclass Kid
MP3: Pelle Carlberg – I Love You, You Imbecile (via Labrador.se)
MP3: Pelle Carlberg – Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls (via Pelle’s website)
May 29 The Supermarket Toronto, Ontario
May 30 Small’s Detroit, Michigan
May 31 Beachland Tavern Cleveland, Ohio
Jun 1 Crooked Beat Washington, Washington DC
Jun 2 The Delancey NYC
The rest of the night was fun too, of course. My second favorite act was headlining duo Pipas whose laptop-aided folk was charming and cute. They’re a band who I know of more than I actually know and I suppose I’m going to have to remedy that. Cause Co-Motion were the most energetic of the night but probably the least poppy (in a Popfest kind of way), reminding of scratchy Scottish bands the Fire Engines and Josef K. Philly’s Human Television were the best I’ve ever seen them. We share a love of the Wedding Present so I’ve always liked them, though they still lack the songs or stage presence to take it to the next level. Michael Leviton entertained with his funny, nerdy ukulele songs (a plus), though I must admit Dear Nora kind of drove me out of club for some fresh air.