There are three reasons I should have stood closer to the stage for tonight’s Efterklang gig. One: towards the end of the night Casper Clausen and crew gave out some delightfully random gifts collected from attendees of previous shows. Two: I could have been more easily basked in bassist Rasmus Stolberg’s moustachioed glory. Three: I would have avoided the constant yipper-yapper of the two most annoying girls in Oxford, nay in all of the land, who happened to be standing behind me and were apparently impervious to my passive aggressive stares. Seriously, girls, if you happened to have stopped searching Justin Bieber fansites and are somehow reading ONF, riddle me this: WHY DO YOU GO TO GIGS?!?
However, the rest of the people assembled upstairs at the O2 in the merry old land of Ox that night, (including more than a few local fave band faces) registered the appropriate amount of reverent buzz throughout Efterklang’s effervescent eleven-song-plus-encore set.
Opening with ‘Hollow Mountain’, the first track of Piramida, their latest and what some have called most accessible album (weirdly, since it was recorded in one of the most remote locations imaginable—an abandoned mining town on an island just shy of the North Pole), the Efterklang trio plus another trio of musicians are in fine form, drawing us in with a multilayered performance anchored in precise percussion, perfectly punctuated phrasing and soaring yet well-controlled vocals.
Keeping with the album’s order, they sail into ‘Apples’ and then take us back several years with ‘I Was Playing Drums’. Cue cheers from the congregation—a similar approving murmur arises for the lullabic ‘Frida Found a Friend’ a couple of swoony songs later. Casper remarks that this tune is reminiscent of a decade gone by, “This is from ten years ago, when we were first in England.”
A comment perhaps most appreciated by the support act for that night, Anna von Hausswolff and her band, as this was their first time ever in the UK. Anna, a diminutive Swedish girl with a colossal voice, only performed four songs by my count “but this last one is a long one” she says. It clocked in at 11 minutes. A beguiling mix of birdsong vocals and industrial machinery-like distortion, she could have played for much longer and I wouldn’t have minded in the slightest, much as I was anticipating the main act.
Speaking of, as I absorbed the rest of Efterklang’s harmony-laden, luminously-layered set that night—because that’s how it works with Efterklang; you don’t just listen, you soak it up like a Yorkshire pudding and warm, cinematic pop gravy—I recalled two things. One was a conversation I’d had with a girl earlier in the week who told me she’d seen the danish indie-classical-synth-but-not-synthetic outfit six times in the past seven years and would have happily attended again this particular evening. And the other is that Efterklang means “remembrance” and “reverberation”.
It’s hard to be a memorable band, especially these days. It’s hard to inspire that kind of reverberating devotion that will keep your fans coming back to shows, with or without an orchestral backing.
And so what if they’ve decided to take a slight turn onto Expansive Ballad Lane? Some of my highlights from the night were the more obviously melodic ‘Black Summer’ and ‘The Ghost’…and the moment when the audience erupted in a happy birthday chorus for the sound artist (I’m being careful to say audience here because did you know happy birthday is freaking protected by copyright??).
We love Efterklang because of their little surprises. Again, it’s a rare and lovely band that can be both distinctly recognisable yet retain their unpredictability. Efterklang more than manages. With pastel blazers, bow ties, moustaches and seemingly effortless panache.