Live Review

Sondre Lerche, The Varsity Theater, Minneapolis

Like an older brother jumping around in his underwear, slamming out a few angsty power chords.

Sondre Lerche

saunters. His face filled up with an impish grin, he settles his hands behind his back, approaching center-stage with an ease only rivaled by the effortlessness of Olympic speed skaters.

Scruffy and sweet, this Norwegian heartthrob has been playing the guitar since he was 8-years-old, inspired equally by the 80s pop streaming from the tape decks of his older siblings and the Bossa Nova guitar method he mastered as a young man. But none of this really matters: not his blue-sky eyes nor the adorable stumblings in his mismatched Ameri-wegian accent. Alone on the stage, he reigns with an awkward confidence and a boyish charm, a perfect frame for his spastic jazz-rock symphonics.

Each one of his pop beauties rises and falls like the points of a plot diagram, perfectly crafted to wrap around the condensed schizophrenia of the silver screen. How perfect then that Lerche was chosen to supply the solicitous soundtrack for ‘Dan in Real Life’. But the most remarkable thing about Lerche’s music and performance is his knack for making classic musical elements fit seamlessly in modern dress. If Frank Sinatra wore jeans, he wouldn’t be too far removed from the disheveled elegance of Lerche’s sweet tenor. Indeed, the time machine mystique is perfectly materialized in the image of his faded grandpa Gibson, hanging from a glam rock silver strap.

It is, however, his opening act, Jesse Marchant (JBM), who sets the stage for all other ensuing anachronisms. Marchant, whose rustic good-looks only add to the umbrella-arching beauty of his performance, wears a flannel shirt and a pair of thin wire-rimmed spectacles. His hair stretches like the ruffled tuft of a cockatoo every time he leans over the front of his guitar, lost in the haze of his reverberated groove. And smoky it is, spreading like a whisper, as though he’s relating some ancient secret. The simplicity of it all is enchanting, and yet in the midst of his silky gloom, his sincerity is both embracing and embarrassing, as though we are listening in on something we shouldn’t; like we have caught him playing naked in his home.

Though both of these virtuosos could leave all of the work to their musical chops, it’s the strength of their personalities that dominates. Lerche has a gift for approachability. He takes time to teach the audience a few Norwegian phrases (apparently Weezy is more correctly referred to as “Vesla Wayne” in the old country) and though while he sings he keeps his eyes closed in a sonic reverie, when he does throw a glance at the eager crowd, it always feels like he’s searching for your eyes alone. His lyrics tug on our heartstrings in all the right ways, pairing idiosyncrasy with well-tuned sentimental feeling. And though he doesn’t mind showing off his guitar skills (he’s a veritable genius), eventually it all ends up looking like an older brother jumping around in his underwear, slamming out a few angsty power chords. This young and unruly shtick defines him.

At one point, he proclaims, “nothing says ‘rebellious teenager’ like Sondre Lerche!” And he makes it true, though the contradictions are blatant. A blue-eyed darling in a tattered denim jacket? He’s bravado and brilliance. He’s Fab Four proper and Arthur Fonzarelli swag. He’s a sweet-faced ray of sunshine, reminding us all that happy days are here to stay.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY