Posted in music | pictures on December 10, 2010

photos by Dominick Mastrangelo, words by Rachel Kowal

Jens Lekman

With its antique brick walls, shiny chandeliers, high ceilings, and open floor plan, The Green Building typically hosts special events like weddings and elaborate parties, but last night, the large warehouse-like space was reserved not by two people declaring their love, but by a crowd of 400 who all held an allegiance to the same man: Swedish sweetheart Jens Lekman.

A freezing November day in Coney Island two years ago left Lekman a bit disenchanted with the city, but as ticket sales for his brief two-night stand in Brooklyn reveal, his fans are glad he decided to return. "These two shows will be some kind of closure for me, and I feel like I'm ready to fall in love with New York again," he said, a few songs into his Thursday night set. I'll let it slide that he then dedicated the next song to the "broken-hearted," which suggests that he might not have escaped the stark, lonely image of off-season Coney Island after all.

The make-shift stage was minimally decorated. A couple of curved tree branches dramatically hung from the ceiling by nearly invisible rope. But the simple yet gorgeous setting helped emphasize the beauty of Lekman's stripped down acoustic performance and his effortless charm. Lekman reached out to the audience early. During his first song ("Sipping on the Sweet Nectar"), he interrupted himself to say, "I want you to harmonize with me on this one." Of course, given the dedication of Lekman's fan base, he didn't have to tell anyone twice.

Lekman may be a subtle performer, but he knows the value of story telling. Before nearly every song (especially the new ones), he explained its meaning or the circumstances that led him to write it. Over the course of the evening, we learned that he grew up near a potato chip factory and that he once attempted to stalk Kirsten Dunst when she was visiting his native town of Gothenburg. (Sadly for Jens, since Gothenburg's clubs don't have VIP lines, he waited inside in vain. Dunst gave up due to the long line.)

Near the end of his set, Lekman and drummer Charlie Hall decided to pump up the volume to get more people dancing. Suddenly, the bass picked up, and Lekman started utilizing more samples and backing tracks. His single, "The Opposite of Hallelujah" contained a brief mash-up with "Give Me Just a Little More Time" by Chairmen of the Board. In the unfolding excitement, Lekman even handed his tambourine over to one lucky audience member.

After a remix version of "Sipping on the Sweet Nectar," he returned to the stage twice for encores. As he prepared to walk off stage, Lekman leaned back into the mic and offered one last personal touch. "The night is young. If you see me in the crowd, and you want to hear a song just come up to me and I will sing it personally."

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Last night's show was one of three shows Jens scheduled this month. The first happened around a pool in LA. The next is tonight at the same environmentally-friendly Brooklyn space as Thursday's show. More pictures from last night (12/9), and the setlist, below...

Jens Lekman

Jens Lekman

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Jens Lekman Setlist (New songs designated by *)
Sipping on the Sweet Nectar
Kanske är jag kär i dig
*Argument with myself on Elizabeth Street (approximate title)
*The End of the World is Bigger Than Love
*Dandruff on Your Shoulder
*Waiting for Kirsten
At the Dept. of Forgotten Songs
Black Cab
*I Want a Pair of Cowboy Boots
*Golden Key (approximate title)
The Opposite of Hallelujah
Into Eternity
Sipping on the Sweet Nectar (Remix version)
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First Encore
Shirin
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Second Encore
A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill
And I Remember Every Kiss

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Comments (46)

Greatest musician of all time, this guy just gets my dick going in every which way.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:08 AM

this show sucked. the space was terrible
sound sucked. deisappointed

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:23 AM

He tenderly sang "Maple Leaves" into my ear per my request after his set... what an enchanting gent. Thanks Jens.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:32 AM

@ 10:23.

Your spelling of disappointed sucked.

Show was amazing.

Posted by anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:35 AM

"Jensy from the Block" - J.Lek

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:37 AM

I thought the space was beautiful, and perfect for a winter's night. Don't know how many shows would work at this place, but Jens Lekman certainly did.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:42 AM

@10:42 agreed. Pretty perfect venue for Jens.

Posted by anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:51 AM

awesome show... it was so simple and he had the whole audience in the palm of his hand... and he has some wickedly dry humor... unforgettable

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:57 AM

Never listened to his music but I can just tell that it's boring....looks like rip off of Belle and Sebastian or some indie pop nonsense....

tell me his best song and i'll let you know about it.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 10:59 AM

Who?

Posted by Ron | December 10, 2010 11:00 AM

10:59, congrats. it's still early but I'm pretty sure you're the stupidest person who will post today.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:03 AM

11:03am....recommend a song and I'll listen to it.

I bet it's horrible though.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:04 AM

10:59 is right. They don't call him Jens LekMEHn for nothing.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:06 AM

Jeff Buckley > Jens Lekman
Tim Kasher solo > Jens Lekman
Jeff Tweedy solo > Jens Lekman
Bright Eyes > Jens Lekman
Jim James solo > Jens Lekman
M Ward > Jens Lekman

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:09 AM

I have a Jens tribute band called "Rocky Dennis the Menace 2 Society"

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:11 AM

did he really walk around after the show? how long after?


and where were you for the sound to have sucked?

i only think the stage should have been a foot higher. other than that, no complaints.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:11 AM

He came out and chatted (or sung into ears) with people next to the stage about 20 minutes after the show ended. He was there until the crowd dissipated.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:17 AM

I wish there would've been more shows, or clearer ticket availability, but it seems like it ended up being pretty cool for everybody there. I loved when he did that BV CMJ show a couple years back, it's a shame that so long passed between the two.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:17 AM

man I really wanted to get to these shows. Anyone have luck with a ticket at the door or anything like that. I can't believe commentors hating on this show. Stay the fukk home I wish I got a ticket so badly!

Posted by addadabba | December 10, 2010 11:17 AM

How much you willing to pay 11:17?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:24 AM

face!

someone's got an extra. they always do

Posted by addabba | December 10, 2010 11:34 AM

11:09 - Tim Kasher, Bright Eyes...HAHAHAHA!!!!! You are such a f--ktard!

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:37 AM

Only in Brooklyn and LA aka where mostly hipsters live will they think this guy is talented.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:37 AM

Anyone get hassled in the extremely hard and infamously rough nabe of Boerum Hill?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:40 AM

I agree that the sound wasn't great, especially if you were standing too close to the speakers. Otherwise, it may have been better, but I don't know. It took way too long to start, and the music that was playing (too loudly) before Jens came out was mismatched to the event and got increasingly grating as the wait dragged on. Fortunately, Jens was charming enough to make me quickly forget how annoyed I was that he took so long to come out. He sang some songs beautifully, but a few others sounded a bit off (melodies were simplified and sung offkey and/or with too little inflection). The drummer's goofy facial expressions (the unintentional ones) were endearing, but he ruined the chorus of "Black Cab" by failing to harmonize properly. One of the new songs was catchy, another was awkward but saved by some pretty vocalise at the end. The modestly-hyped Kirsten Dunst song was a bit of a novelty. The story that it tells is better than the song that tells it. In some parts, Jens attempts to stuff too many words into the meter, and the lyrics don't fit together very well--they sound arbitrary and ungraceful together. It's saved towards the end by some jaunty guitar playing and more vocalise (which sounded a bit redundant after he concluded the other new song in the same way). But overall, I would say that there was more good than bad. I'm glad that I went. If you're going to the second show, don't stand next to the speakers! Try standing in the center about midway or maybe a third of the way back. Should sound decent from there.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:41 AM

How many people got jumped after?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:46 AM

This show was a bummer

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:48 AM

i hear you
a bunch of dick sucking egg heads

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:48 AM

"If you're going to the second show, don't stand next to the speakers! Try standing in the center about midway or maybe a third of the way back."

You mean it's pretty much just like every other music venue in the world?

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 11:49 AM

jens lekman rules. cant wait til he comes back with a full band

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:08 PM

i was in the back and sound was great. they only had two speakers in the venue. one on the front right and one on the front left.
must have been really loud to be by there during the show.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:09 PM

how to make hummus

1. combine 1 can chickpeas and 1/4 cup olive oil in a bowl

2. use jens lekman's vibrating tenor ballbag to blend

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:11 PM

"'If you're going to the second show, don't stand next to the speakers! Try standing in the center about midway or maybe a third of the way back.'
You mean it's pretty much just like every other music venue in the world?"

No. I wouldn't presume to know what every music venue in the world is like. You would have to be awfully presumptuous to make that sort of hasty generalization. I was refering to it in comparison to other shows that I've attended--particularly small, intimate ones. I saw M. Ward solo several years ago for instance, and that was almost too quiet even near the speakers. Thanks for the useless commentary though. Perhaps the ability to recognize or comprehend nuance is not your forte.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:28 PM

actually, that "singing dj" thing he did a couple of years ago at the bv cmj show was horrible.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:30 PM

"particularly small, intimate ones"

i wish i could feel intimacy with a precious prostitute

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:43 PM

I hope he plays "Shirin" again tonight.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:45 PM

11:09 gets his music tips from NPR.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:51 PM

>>>It took way too long to start, and the music that was playing (too loudly) before Jens came out was mismatched to the event and got increasingly grating as the wait dragged on

Hmmm, weird. He started right at 9:30 sharp like it was told to me and Jens handpicked Victoria Bergsman from Taken By Trees to be the guest DJ, so you lose I guess.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:52 PM

^^
Ha!

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:53 PM

People who leave the house for shows on average of twice a year talking about sound is like Christine O'Donnell talking about masturbation. Sounded pretty good for a makeshift venue to me.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 12:55 PM

i have an extra but you're going to have to be willing to pay more than face. This is a premier talent at a cozy venue and he just got raves for his previous night's performance.

On top of that, he actually went through the audience and sang his songs in people's ears. If I auctioned off such a intimate experience with proceeds going to your favorite charity, you'd be willing to pay quite the pretty penny. This is the exact same thing except the proceeds are going to my favorite charity. So if you want to go to the show, you're going to have to pay. Make no mistake about that. But remember that money comes and goes but experiences like these last forever. please don't be cheap and kick yourself for the rest of your life. I'll be on craigslist.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 2:35 PM

You're an idiot 2:35pm. I rather pay $100 to go see Portishead than hear this guy sing.

Only hipsters these days think a guy like this is great.....

Go back to wherever you came from.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 2:53 PM

Careful, 2:35.

Are you the CL poster who is asking for the best offer for the ticket? With the attitude you espoused in your above comment, you're liable to just get screwed over by empty promises made by fed up fans or the unemployed instigators who frequent the site. Maybe you'd be better off just asking for the face value instead of being so greedy.

Posted by Anonymous | December 10, 2010 3:27 PM

great looking pictures!
hope he'll release new material next year. cant wait to *see* him live. it's been 2 years...

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2010 8:47 AM

12.55: that's just the point - it was makeshift, and they dont always work, this one didnt....

Posted by Anonymous | December 13, 2010 4:23 PM

Wow People can be such Dickheads...
He is an amazing musician and he is really truly a genuine and nice person.
It was a great show!

Posted by Elina | December 25, 2010 3:44 PM

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