Posted in music | pictures on September 28, 2010

photos by Jessica Amaya, words by Rachel Kowal

DOWNLOAD: S. Carey - In the Dirt (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: S. Carey - In the Stream (MP3)

The Tallest Man On Earth

Even if you don't know much about S. Carey's background, it probably wouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that he wrote much of the material for his debut album while on the road with Bon Iver. Sean Carey possesses the kind of slow, steady vocals that make you weak in the knees, and the accompanying music benefits from a collection of classy instruments like the upright bass, saxophone, and vibraphone. The set began with a hushed, melodic opening that gradually crescendoed when Carey came in on vocals midway through the song. For once, earplugs weren't necessary - at least for the majority of the set Monday night at Webster Hall (9/27).

S. Carey did make one notable departure from the tranquil presentation. Fitting for its title, "Action" featured a surprisingly rowdy segment as each of the musicians contributed to the song's chaotic and frenzied conclusion.

Considering the fact that S. Carey has never played a show in New York, Webster Hall is a pretty impressive place to start. The sheer size of the venue typically makes it an inhospitable setting for quieter acts, but both S. Carey and Tallest Man on Earth effortlessly captured the attention of the mild-mannered and appreciative crowd.

When it came time for The Tallest Man on Earth to play, the stage had been stripped down to a single mic stand, a simple brown wooden chair, and a guitar rack. Kristian Matsson walked on stage to what sounded like a Swedish song playing in the background. Without a word of introduction, he began singing "A Field of Birds." Whenever he wasn't required to be at the mic, Matsson paced around the stage, sometimes running back over just in time to sing.

"Thank you so much New York. I'm glad to be back. I might have played that song a bit too fast, but don't judge me. This is a big place," Matsson sheepishly confessed after a couple of songs. Matsson's distinctively gruff voice provides an interesting contrast to the melodic strains of his guitar. Though he didn't have a backing band, Matsson's music impressively resonated throughout the large space and the reverent sold-out audience.

The magical star-lit backdrop lining the stage seemed to be perfectly suited for a man whose songs feature motifs like love, the beautiful Scandinavian landscape, and of course - birds. At one point, someone in the crowd asked him about the mysterious message emblazoned in blue on his T-shirt. "Good question. Thank you so much for asking and not yelling something like 'Fuck you.'" He countered. "It's Leksand Delarna. It's where I'm from. It's my home town." He briefly reflected on his homesickness before momentarily turning his back on the crowd and walking over to get a closer look at the celestial backdrop, as if marveling at the beautiful Swedish night sky.

After playing a couple of songs about the ups and downs of love, he returned to the topic of his homeland and the album artwork it inspired. "So I have a new EP. It's only 5 songs. But the cover is awesome... it's like a chimney and a field house... go to the merch. You don't have to buy it. Just check it out." And with that, he launched into "Like the Wheel."

Though the show featured a number of pauses as Matsson stopped to tune a guitar or communicated with the sound technician, this attention to detail paid off and made for quite a robust sound (and the most beautiful and complicated guitar tuning technique I've ever heard).

Matsson capped off his initial set with "Thrown Right at Me," a lovely duet featuring Amanda Bergman (aka Jaw Lesson) (previously Hajen) on vocals. He then returned to wild applause to wrap up with an impassioned three-song encore.

The Tallest Man and S. Carey are on tour (S. Carey will be back for CMJ too). Updated dates, the full Tallest Man setlist, and more pictures from the NYC show, below...

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

S. Carey

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth

S Carey & Tallest Man on Earth - 2010 Tour Dates
09/30/10 Northampton, MA - Pearl Street Nightclub
10/01/10 Somerville, MA - Somerville Theater
10/02/10 Philadelpia, PA - Theater of the Living Arts
10/03/10 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club

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Tallest Man on Earth Set list
A Field of Birds
Burden of Tomorrow
I Won't Be Found
Pistol Dreams
Love is All
King of Spain
The Wild Hunt
The Tangle
Like the Wheel
You're a Big Girl Now (Bob Dylan cover)
The Gardener
Where Do My Bluebirds Fly
You're Going Back
Thrown Right at Me

Encore
The Dreamer
A Lion's Heart
This Wind

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Comments (12)

TME is about the best songwriter I've seen come along in the past couple of years. And he's very good live.

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 2:54 PM

i want to put him in my pocket

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 3:46 PM

i am so fucking sick of reading this girl rachel's epic fucking manifestos on bands we all know about. WE ALL FUCKING READ BROOKLYNVEGAN AND KNOW WHO S. CAREY IS, OKAY?

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 4:43 PM

great show, lovefest crowd

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 4:52 PM

@4:43 i don't know about s. carey. how about scarfing down some more hummus and shutting the hell up?

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 4:57 PM

Saw him a few months ago, and definitely has a killer voice...pretty good guitar player, even though he does the same shit over and over...but I really thought his live show was weak. Absolutely energy-less roonm. I know some of you will disagree, but I just found it as boring as could be. I don't like to pay money for a show and want to fall asleep. My girlfriend likes this whole singer songwriter thing, so I get dragged to them. At least Laura Marling brings a band out and has some energy to her set...

Posted by Sean | September 28, 2010 5:08 PM

That first pic is special.

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 5:19 PM

This was my fourth Tallest Man show (first was when he opened for Bon Iver in 2008) and this was by far the best he's sounded, crowd was kind of annoying and two girls behind talked the entire time, but all in all amazing

and can we please stop posting photos of people taking pictures? not something I want to encourage

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 5:39 PM

@4:43, you seriously need to relax. Life's too short to be so negative. Maybe take a vacation with a book or go upstate and look at the leaves changing colors. I don't know, something to remind you that we're all human.

Rachel is an awesome person. I think her write ups and reviews are well done and thoughtful.

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 7:33 PM

"i am so fucking sick of reading this girl rachel's epic fucking manifestos on bands we all know about. WE ALL FUCKING READ BROOKLYNVEGAN AND KNOW WHO S. CAREY IS, OKAY?"

Wow! This is really eating away at ya, huh? Look at those CAPS! Ummm...ok. It's ok.

Posted by Anonymous | September 28, 2010 10:20 PM

I did not know of this Carey fello.

Thanks Carey! You're the best!

Posted by Alex | September 29, 2010 1:52 PM

A good insight and ideas.. I will use it in my article. You’ve obviously spent a lot of time on this. Congratulations!

Posted by jocuri | August 28, 2012 5:34 AM

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