Sweden’s gift to retro rock The Soundtrack Of Our Lives leveled the El Rey last Friday in a surprise return to North America. They played the Troubadour in 2009 and usually don’t grace this continent for an eternity of another two years. That’s seven-hundred-and-thirty days, people. So this tour was a rare and delectible delicacy of an epicurean treat. Seriously, if this tour were food, it would be a black Périgord truffle.
Kicking off this momentus occasion, opening local trio Nico Vega exploded onto the stage and rained face-melting chaos until strangling out their last note. Between sweaty spurts of furious rock they thanked TSOOL for being so awesome and wished Ebbot a happy birthday and seemed to genuinely appreciate the treasure it was to be on tour, right here right now, with this special band. This wasn’t as evident to a clump of people who promptly left before the headliners had time to finish their beers backstage. Cool with me though because it meant those people who spend the entire show gabbing into the ears of their bff not listening to the music were now at home, not standing behind me.
Finally the moment arrived and Sweden’s coolest sick-pack roared in all smiles and rock, playing tracks from the new album, Communion, along with older hits and favorites like “Sister Surround” and “Thrill Me.” Frontman Ebbot, a portly and imposing figure draped in flowing robes, is the kind of guy who commands attention at all times, even when he wasn’t tossing tambourines around his neck or throwing his micstand all over the stage. It was hard to keep your eyes off Ebbot, even with the rest of the band flying apeshit all around him—Ian leaping on monitors grinding his axe into the faces of the front row, Martin thrashing the keyboard like a man possessed, Fredrik pulverizing his drumheads with each forceful, Mattias attacking his guitar with his ass. And then there was Kalle, chugging away at his basslines with cool earnest. So rockstar. (In a good way.) In a mind blowingly epic finale, Wayne Kramer from the MC5 and Nico Vega’s band joined them onstage for “Kick Out the Jams” in an insane circus show with everyone grabbing an instrument and jumping and stomping and swirling and twirling each other around and culminating in an exhausted collective orgasm. Closing out the evening with a third and final encore, just Ebott and Martin took to the stage and lulled the audience with the beautiful piano ballad “Tonight,” singing: “Tonight I am on top of the world, Tonight I’m the center of the universe.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
—Linda Rapka (words + photo)