Efterklang, Nightlands @ Doug Fir Lounge, Portland (Pics) (Review)

    In their decade of existence, Efterklang has always been in the periphery of the spotlight. The Danish band’s creative experimentation allures some while challenging others. Whether you are into Efterklang’s brand of arty pop or not, it’s difficult not to be enchanted by their live performance. Those of us who first experienced an Efterklang show in September 2010 in Portland were eager for their return. The candor and the dedication to their craft translates into bubbles of joy that gently seeps in, to put you in a buoyant mood. And no matter how solemn the music, plenty of smiles beamed on March 13 at Doug Fir Lounge.

    Efterklang’s fourth LP, Piramida, is a more somber affair than their previous album, Magic Chairs, and the evocative ambience of the latest record influenced the changes on stage. Now a trio, the Copenhagen-based group brought along three musicians to help present their punctilious production. A drummer from Finland, a multi-instrumentalist from Germany, and a Danish female keyboardist with an operatic voice. 

    Opening the set with the first track from Piramida, “Hollow Mountain”, the show was largely dedicated to the elegiac and orchestra-tinged record. The sextet broke up the ruminating reverberation now and then with sprightlier numbers like “Raincoats” and “Modern Drift” from Magic Chairs. The wistful “Step Aside” from Efterklang’s bedroom-electronica debut, Tripper, felt right among the newer catalogue. The finale still belonged to the final track from their intricate orchestral masterpiece, Parades. “Cutting Ice To Snow” begins with a church mass-like chorus hum and crescendoes into an impassioned anthem. 

    The once bashful vocalist, Casper Clausen, has become one of the most affable and engaging frontmen. In a very Efterklang style, they had asked the audience from every show leading up to Portland to write a note to the people in the city they labeled it as “Pete land” on their setlist (I’m pretty sure they were referring to their good friend and once touring member of Efterklang, Peter Broderick, who is originally from Portland). Clausen took notes out of his tan blazer and read off few “Efterpost” to provide some anecdote to a predominantly evocative set. This is just one example of the band’s whimsical charm that provides respite from a world where the shock and awe has desensitized many of us. 

    Nightlands aka Dave Hartley from Philadelphia opened up for Efterklang. I was disappointed that Hartley didn’t grace the stage with the silver body paint, as advertised on his album cover. But Hartley and his bandmates amused us with their Voodoo Doughnut poses. For Efterklang, I brought LED light balloons but guess the flashing colors didn’t translate well in the stills, but sure was fun kicking them around like soccer balls afterwards.

    Also check out Efterklang’s latest film project, Ghost Of Piramida.