Chicago Shows: Jens Lekman
I have been waiting quite some time to see Jens Lekman live. The line to see the show was already forming when I arrived 15 minutes prior to doors. The fans in line were giddy with excitement, sharing their individual stories of when they saw him last and when they saw him first. During our wait–in the 30 degree weather, mind you–a woman walked up from the back of the line, curiously asking each person in line, “Why are you here to see Jens Lekman?” She took each answer, recorded it in her memory bank, and moved on quickly. She didn’t seem to be interested in a debate, or even a conversation. It made me wonder if she was trying to trick her way up the line closer to the front. A couple behind me had similar questions as to her intent: “Did she just buy a ticket on a whim? Is she trying to decide if she’s going to stay for the show?” We may never know her intentions. (She did, however, return to her spot in line so we know she wasn’t skipping.)
The show opened with Lisa / Liza, a quiet and soft-spoken girl that leads a two-person band. She stood in place as she murmured lyrics to the accompaniment of her guitar and her bandmate’s. Her voice was high-pitched and soothing, but I could not understand her words. She seemed well-intentioned and humbled by the crowd–I’m sure as time progresses, she will grow and gain more confidence in her music. I’m interested to see where she is in 2, 3, or 5 years.
The moment Jens walked onto the stage, the crowd erupted. The moment had finally arrived–Jens Lekman, in all his glory, was standing before us. A man with his voice and his guitar. He sang two songs by his lonesome, a memory that many fans in the crowd had shared with me of his last visit to Chicago. I felt as if I was seeing two shows in one–Jens by himself, and then later, Jens with his band. His bandmates are three women. Here and there they sang back up on the songs, but we never heard them speak. Each woman had such an interesting vibe to her–I was dying to know each of their stories. But, back to Jens. The show seemed fun and effortless. He danced, interacted with the crowd, spoke with us, and played for us. He mentioned that during sound check a thought had come to him that he wanted to try. He asked us to part the middle of the crowd so that there lay about 5 feet of space between each side of the audience (Metro is standing room only so imagine an open space packed from front to back with fans), and then as he sang he wanted us to dance over to the person opposite us and give him or her a hug. He called it a Wall of Love. From my perspective, I couldn’t see if people followed through. But, the vibe was heightened a little more during that set, so I think Jens could call it a success.
Jens and his band are masterful at their work. They effortlessly moved through their set list, stopping to acknowledge the dedication and love the audience has for their music. His voice is incredibly unique. It’s at the same time soothing and energizing. He has a few more US tour dates before flying to Europe to round out this leg of the “Life Will See You Now” tour. If he is coming close to you I highly recommend braving the weather or the journey to see him. You will likely find yourself becoming an immediate fan, and being the first of the lot to enter the building the 2nd time you see him.
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