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Friday night I was at the Showbox at the Market to see Lykke Li, with Wildbirds & Peacedrums. I attended this show as a volunteer for KEXP, which sponsored the show, so the standard disclaimer applies: although I am a volunteer for KEXP, the opinions expressed in this review and all other posts on this blog are solely mine and do not represent the official views of KEXP.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums are the husband-and-wife duo of Andreas Werliin and Mariam Wallentin on drums and vocals/dulcimer/percussion respectively. As I learned at the show, their music defies easy description. Their stark vocals and percussion suggested tribal music origins, but the performance style was more akin to an art project than authentic folk music. They might be termed worldbeat, but only in the broadest sense of mixing folk/ethnic musical elements and Western-style music. Wallentin and Werliin were evenly matched with powerful vocals and drumming, and the audience responded enthusiastically. I wasn't sure what I was hearing, but I decided whatever Wildbirds & Peacedrums might be, they were pretty good.

Lykke Li is a Swedish indie-pop singer-songwriter—not exactly a rare breed these days. What distinguishes Li's music is her quirky spirit and flavorings of rock, electronica, and even hip-hop; also, of course, her soft girlish voice, strongly reminiscent of Allison Shaw from shoegaze/dreampop band Cranes. Before describing her set, I should clarify that because I had the duty of watching the KEXP table, I only saw the first half of her performance, although being just outside the performing space I clearly heard the entire set. Li came out on stage alone to begin the first song, "Dance, Dance, Dance", and was joined about halfway through by a guitarist, keyboardist, and drummer. Similarly, she began "Complaint Department" by herself with a cymbal and sampled music before the band came back; at the other end, "Hanging High" featured two additional musicians both playing additional percussion and singing backing vocals. Most of her set drew from her debut album Youth Novels, of course, but she introduced at least one new song, "Until We Bleed". To my surprise, she played her hits "I'm Good, I'm Gone" and "Little Bit" early in the set, and her two encore songs were unknown to me. The last encore began as a cover of "Walk On The Wild Side" but morphed into something else with Li rapping for a bit on top. From what I saw, Li was an entertaining and engaging performer, working the crowd a bit and making some amusing comments between songs. The whole set sounded great, and even if I couldn't actually see all of it I was glad that I hadn't missed hearing it. My only regret was that I was strapped for cash and couldn't pick up her album, but hopefully it won't be too long before I can.



Coming up in the next two weeks are two shows I've been eagerly awaiting for the past three months. First, on Friday Feb. 20, the Sunset Tavern hosts a double record-release show for Point Juncture WA and Hotels, with The Animals at Night opening. Second, on Wednesday Feb. 25 Annuals return to Seattle headlining a show at Chop Suey, which is sure to be amazing. Also next week on Wednesday Feb. 18, Ballard clothes store Blackbird is sponsoring "Birds of a Feather", a benefit show for the Ballard Food Bank featuring the Botherations, Idle Times, and Yes Oh Yes. I know nothing of these bands, but the store owners are friends of mine and the cause is worthy, so go check it out. Speaking of worthy causes, KEXP's Spring Pledge Drive starts Friday Feb. 27 and runs through the first week of March.


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