Efterklang at Empty Bottle

An incredible change has taken place in the musical world over the last decade, with most of us barely noticing what was happening. Music has become much more of an international and global phenomenon than it ever was before. In the realms of that stuff we call indie rock, for lack of a better term, it now seems like an almost humdrum occurrence when two bands from Denmark come to a place like the Empty Bottle in Chicago for a concert. Sure, there have always been musicians in every part of the world, and back in the 1970s European groups like Can and Kraftwerk received some attention in the English-speaking parts of the planet. But those were rare exceptions to the U.S. and U.K. dominance of pop and rock music. These days, bands from Sweden, Italy, Indonesia, you name it, are recording music that ends up on iPods all over the U.S. and it doesn’t seem strange at all to see them touring here. What a fertile time for music…

Anyway, what prompts these thoughts was yet another show by foreign bands bringing their lovely music to the shores of Lake Michigan here in the middle of the Midwest. Efterklang, a group from Copenhagen, put out a cool record last year, Parades, with music that’s both atmospheric and complex. They were in town Monday (June 2) for a show at the Empty Bottle, and the big ensemble (eight of them, if I remember right) sounded great, with some interesting vocal harmonies, which were occasionally echoed in the horn arrangements. It was a lively set, and the crowd was enthusiastic. (And hey, it was free, too – I love these free concerts on Mondays at the Bottle.)

I showed up just in time to catch the last couple of “songs” (sonic experiments might be a more apt description) by the first act of the night, Chicago’s Nick Butcher. Interesting. And then another group from Denmark, Slaraffenland, played. I wasn’t familiar with their music, but it had a bracing quality similar to Efterklang. It seemed like many people in the crowd were there to see Slaraffenland as much as they were there to see Efterklang.

See my photos of Efterklang and Slaraffenland.

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