Ever since quiet has been the new loud, things haven’t been quite the same. Extroverts became introverts, and angst-ridden teenagers turned to making life-sized models of the Velvet Underground in clay. Chronicling all of this from Bergen, Norway has been the Kings of Convenience, a duo of acoustic guitar players and singers who write sparse but somehow perfectly arranged songs. Unlike other acoustic acts out there, though, Erik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye have secretly associated with different musical styles (Øye being a respected DJ), and have made friends in varied places, as noted by the follow-up to their entirely acoustic debut album: a covers album, Versus, of other artists including the likes of Ladytron and Four Tet.
That being said, maybe it wasn’t all that surprising that the Kings of Convenience were able to convince Canadian Arts & Craft star Leslie Feist to come and join them on the stage for a surprise appearance. What was surprising, however, was the fact that these guys actually put on a fun live show full of audience participation, sexy dancing, and decent banter (especially after hearing stories of their live show in Toronto, where one of them was sick, and repeatedly left the stage in anger because the cash registers at the bar were too noisy for him to play over).
As usual, during the most tender and intimate moments of the concert the edge of the crowd turned to conversation faster than I could say “shut up!” but the Kings of Convenience, instead of trying to fight it by direct means, were able to simply give the audience parts of their songs to sing, thus keeping the musical intimacy and also giving every listener who gave a damn an opportunity to help keep the talkers at bay. Dang, those Norwegians are a smart lot.