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Jens Lekman (W/ Tig Notaro) @ The Echo, 05/28/09
"So what's with the Prop 8 bullshit anyway?"
So said Jens Lekmen just before starting "A Postcard to Nina", to warm applause from the crowd of Angelenos who were as weary of codified hatred as they were entranced by the performer in front of them. The comment was a grim reminder of the things America (and in particular, California), sorely lacks: decency; equal protection under the law; and more musicians like Jens Lekmen.
Those of you who've seen him live know that this kind of brilliant is a little difficult to sum up and frankly, we wonder why one should bother. After the number of times he's graced LA with his presence (3 in the last year!), his shows ought to be written in our DNA and thus need no description, but if we simply must, it was, as usual, fantastic. Highly prolific and endearingly idiosyncratic, he's a songwriter with particular gifts for narrative storytelling and for unusual settings, not to mention song titles - "I saw her at the anti war demonstration", "Friday Night At The Drive In bingo" for instance - that rival The Smiths in their ironic obviousness and length. Jens' final night at the Echo show was the usual awesome, a mix of old favorites land some fairly awesome new songs like "The end of the world is bigger than love", which, having spent the last month watching my favorite lady playing Fallout 3, I found particularly relevant, and "new directions" which he insisted is about google maps.
Jens Lekman's shows have loose, conversational charm, less like a straight music concert and more like minimalist stand up with musical accompaniment. He tends to tell (and yes, retell) the stories behind his songs, interact with the audience and ad lib freely, so it was wholly appropriate that he chose for his opening act not another band (who'd, let's face it, just kind of suck compared to him no matter how good they were), but LA based indie comic Tig Notaro (Tig the lesbian cop from the Sarah Silverman show, incidentally.) Her lackadaisacal kind of observational humor is superficially banal, but the real trick is wringing laughter out of her delivery, which somehow renders punchlines redundant. (It's as if Dane Cook were actually funny, instead of an insufferable joke stealing douchenozzle. The story she told about having been informed by a random drunk that her breasts are tiny is particularly hilarious.) It's a nice fit for Jens' storytelling style. See her. She is funny.
Jens is too. And after seeing him for the third time, our only complaint (besides the recent upholding of prop 8) is that he doesn't actually live here.