Swedes, The Acorn & more

Saturday (Nov. 1) was one of those nights when Schubas has not one good show, but two. Six bands in all, all worth seeing. First came a trio of Scandinavian acts. Tobias Fröberg started out the evening with a short acoustic set of his folk-rock. Fröberg gets a sad expression on his face when he sings, but in between songs he displayed a dry and very Swedish sense of humor. At one point he observed, “In Sweden, we like sex.” After a short pause: “No, we don’t.”

Theresa Andersson, a Swedish singer who now lives in New Orleans, was up next. She has lots of talents, which she showed off with an exuberant set, looping pedals to sing in harmony with herself – or rather, the various voices inside her, each of which she gave a name and personality, dubbing the whole ensemble “the Kitchenettes.” She also played violin, guitar, drums and a little bit of dulcimer (one strum of one chord, I think!), using the looping pedals to put it all together into a mix of New Orleans-inspired R&B. And yes, she did occasionally sound more like the Swedish folkies on the bill with her.

Ane Brun was the headliner for the early show, singing like an angel… Beautiful folk music with a sense of poise. She sang her cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” which closes out the American version of her new CD, Changing of the Seasons, but mostly it was her original songs. It was a lovely set, maybe a little too short, but Brun had to end her performance in time for Schubas’ late show…

Photos of Ane Brun, Theresa Andersson and Tobias Fröberg.

The second half of the night featured headliners The Acorn with opening acts Ohbijou and the Shaky Hands. The Canadian band Ohbijou played first, and singer-songwriter Casey Macija’s delicate songs sounded more lively in concert than they do on record, with cello and violin joining together with the rock instruments to make spry and charming indie pop.

I did not know anything about the Shaky Hands before seeing them on Saturday, but I quite liked their performance. They were in a more traditional vein of roots-rock, with lots of energy and lots of flying hair courtesy of the lead guitarist. I’d recommend this Portland band to fans of groups like Ladyhawk.

Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, The Acorn released a noteworthy album of folk-rock in 2007, Glory Hope Mountain, with songs based on lead singer Rolf Klausener’s mother’s life. The Acorn recently put out a split 12-inch with Ohbijou, featuring each band covering two songs by the other band. Klausener’s lead vocals remind me at time of early-1970s George Harrison, but the band’s music is also shaggy around the edges, with a little bit of art rock and world music in there, maybe some freak folk, too. With two drummers playing on most songs, the Acorn found a nice balance between sounding pretty and rocking.

Photos of the Acorn, the Shaky Hands and Ohbijou.

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