You gotta have a gimmick! And last Friday at 390 Livehouse that was “Scandinavia.” But you know, I’d never been to a Scandinavian showcase before so it got me in the door. Also it was rainy and 390 has a happy hour till 10 so to be honest, it wasn’t that hard.
First up was singer/songwriter Frida Andersson from Finland, though she lives in Sweden, so that’s pretty effin’ Scandinavian, right!? And she was…oh, underwhelming, I guess. Nothing wrong with her. Good voice, fine songs, somewhat forgettable, but not bad. This was actually her second time in China as she also performed at the Midi Festival in 2012, so she’s doing well enough to have toured in China at least twice, so that’s something. It’s a rough business, the whole singer/songwriter route. There’s a lot of them out there. And she was one of them. By the way, there are 23 Frida Anderssons on SoundCloud, 11 of which list themselves as musicians and somehow I’ve become desensitized to pretty blonde women because they all look the same to me and I don’t know which one to link to. To listen to Frida’s music, check out her website here.
Next was the Swedish trio Postiljonen (which I’ve just learned means “postman,” which makes me think this band is a bitch to Google in Sweden) made up of Mia Bøe, Joel Nyström Holm and Daniel Sjörs. They were pretty remarkable. Beautiful, expansive electronic-based music. The lead singer has one of those floaty, ethereal-like voices that’s super popular in music like this and sounds good over synthesizers.
Last that night was Bottled in England — August Dyrborg and Daniel Vognstrup — a Danish drum and bass duo. They were also not bad and had a good energy. The bassist had some pretty fast fingers on the old bass sound board and was able to make playing it looking surprisingly cool. I think, though, they would have been better suited in a different venue. A friend of mine pointed out they would’ve killed in someplace like the Shelter but seemed a bit out of place at 390. In essence they were playing dance music but the set up that night for the bands at 390 wasn’t conducive to dancing; it was more of a stand-and-listen-to-the-music kind of outfit.
Also, for a Friday night show (obviously a working day for most people), the first act didn’t go on until after 11 which is quite late for a three-band bill, so Bottled in England didn’t actually start playing till about half past midnight, which would be okay on a Saturday but was not so good on a Friday because we are tired, working people. A fair amount of people left early, but I don’t think it was because of the quality of performances. It’s just that we’d been up ALL DAY. But the show did manage to turn out the tens of Scandinavians who live in Shanghai and allowed them to congregate and be really tall together. Worst gig ever for standing in the back.