A lean young man with properly fitted jeans and a combed side part walks on stage to begin strumming his guitar and crooning out sweet, leathery notes. After the first song, he asks the crowd, "What the f@#$!?"
Sondre Lerche headlined Tuesday night's, Talkhouse Showcase at the Bowery Ballroom, part of the CMJ Music Marathon. As the headliner, Sondre can do as he pleases, but his rhetorical question wouldn't be assumed from his polite recording recording career that spans more than a decade of sweet, melodic pop music.
Sondre's lovely, trained voice and great musical control are fundamental to his live sound. When Sondre lost his precision in exploding guitar riffs, some interesting adventure shimmied through the performance, but the chords often unraveled into a big band sounds that didn't feel like Sondre.
Adventure has been a theme for Sondre lately -- he wrote a piece for Talkhouse in August, and released a live album in September. Perhaps there is an eagerness to accentuate the jazz hands and sell that record with his onstage shenanigans. Maybe a few wanderers were persuaded to peruse the merch stand afterward.