Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

The Sounds turn up the volume

The RunnerOnline Edition: November 27, 2011 | Print Edition: Volume 4, Issue 7

ISO 1000 | f/2.8 | 1/200 | 50mm Max Hirtz
Lead singer Maja Ivarsson of The Sounds serenades the audience with the band’s post-punk revival-style music at the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday.

Even on the last night of their North American tour, The Sounds clearly weren’t jetlagged from the non-stop travel schedule when they played Vancouver.

The Swedish ’00s-era new wave group blasted through a 17-song setlist at the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday night, and they turned up the energy as much as the volume.

The venue was filled with hipsters wearing thick-rimmed, non-prescription glasses and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, but pretentious crowd aside, the headliners put on a concert that wasn’t exclusive to skinny social outcasts with godawful moustaches. (Year-round, not just for Movember.)

I want to see your cameras… cell phones… lighters… crackpipes. Just kidding.

Maja Ivarsson

The opening acts—The Limousines and Kids At The Bar—made what I assume was music, but they were overpowered by their pulsating bass that made the ballroom vibrate until your earplugs popped out.

Drummer Fredrik Blond literally kicked off the show with “It’s So Easy” and their latest single, “Dance with the Devil”, from 2011’s Something to Die For. Frontwoman Maja Ivarsson weaved operatic verses around glittery keyboards and orchestral sound effects.

Ivarsson, channelling her inner Debbie Harry, excited the crowd as she started singing “Seven Days a Week” from their 2002 debut album, followed by “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake”.

“It feels pretty fucking good,” she said, looking out to the spandexed, neon, plaid flannel, tight-‘n’-bright (fashion-unconscious) audience.

The band was a slithering silhouette on a chameleon backdrop of sapphire blue, violet and chartreuse
low-lighting, contrasted by violent, blinding strobes that compromised the ambiance.

“The No No Song” brought a prominent synthesized melody and a catchy, electric hook by lead guitarist Félix Rodríguez heading into “Something to Die For”.

The crowd got in a tizzy over “Song with a Mission” as Ivarsson paraded on stage and did high kicks in her short dress, unafraid of the exposure.

Proving she’s the anti-diva, Ivarsson emerged onstage after “Better Off Dead” with a cigarette and a beer (not PBR), going into the ballad “Night After Night”.

“I want to see your cameras… cell phones… lighters… crackpipes,” she said as a few dozen Bics and Zippos went in the air. “Just kidding.”

The energy in the ballroom multiplied with “Painted by Numbers” and an upbeat performance of “4 Songs & a Fight” upped it even more into “Dorchester Hotel”.

The relentless vivacity wouldn’t let up as keyboardist Jesper Anderberg started off “Ego”, a surefire in-demand track, and the thumping “Yeah Yeah Yeah”.

They wrapped up their main set with their second single, “Living in America”, and left the stage for several minutes only to come back to finish what they started.

“It’s the last show of the fuckin’ tour, so let’s go fuckin’ crazy tonight!” Ivarsson yelled going into the encore.

The show descended into an uptempo, cymbal-clashing, fist-pumping, strobe-lit fiasco, in the best sense of the word. They closed with the dance-punk hit “Tony the Beat” from 2006 and the electronic anthem “Hope You’re Happy Now” off Living in America.

By that point, the fans were more than happy. The Sounds got the youth on their feet and shook them to their knees, leaving the ballroom floor with shoe marks from checkered Vans than ever.

Concert Preview | November 8, 2011
Vancouver, BC
Commodore Ballroom
The Sounds ride new wave into Vancouver

The Sounds will be making good use of the Commodore Ballroom’s dancefloor when they come back to Vancouver.

The Swedish indie five-piece is currently touring North America on their self-produced fourth studio album, Something to Die For, and their final stop is Rain City. Their post-punk revival rock is set to shake Granville Street on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

It’s hard to sum up, but they sound like a 2000s version of Blondie.

They were last on our Canadian soil in October 2009 for their previous album, Crossing the Rubicon, following a tour with female-fronted acts No Doubt and Paramore.

Now they’re headlining 7,000 kilometres from home, filling venues nationwide.

Frontwoman Maja Ivarsson will surely bring it onstage, giving off an aura of spunk and Debbie Harry’s attitude. Her sexy, European accent and vocal bravado are just some of the key elements that define the Sounds’ new wave synthpunk style.

They are bound to play the singles “Dance with the Devil”, “Better Off Dead” and the album’s title track, as well as such older hits as “Painted by Numbers” and “Beatbox”. They might even pull out “Living in America” off their 2002 debut record.

So brace yourself for distorted guitars, electronica keyboards, sampled sound effects and bass beats. But the best way to prepare and understand their amalgamation of genres is to have a listen (and you’ll probably like what you hear).

The Sounds return to the Commodore Ballroom on November 22 with special guests Natalia Kills, The Limousines and Kids At The Bar. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster for $31.75.



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