The Sounds brought plenty of shake-shake-shake to the 9:30 Club Saturday.
In a very
nearly totally sold-out room, the Swedish quintet kicked off the night with “Emperor,” a song from their new album. If some in the audience didn’t know it that well, the band got their attention with better-known “Song with a Mission” from their popular second album, Dying to Say This to You, and kept the crowd jumping and squealing in delight for the rest of the night.
All members of The Sounds performed with a furious energy. Vocalist Maja Ivarsson was in good form, singing huskily through selections from all five of the band’s albums as she writhed, hopped and slinked across the floor. Ivarsson however did not perform too many of her trademark kicks Saturday. I caught The Sounds earlier in the week at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia, and Ivarsson was striking out with her legs in dramatic fashion as she pranced along the stage in heels with some disregard as to how much of her underwear she showed off. Still, Ivarsson stomped and vamped through the set — at one point during the end of the show, she even slid down on her belly to sing seductively into a microphone that had fallen on the ground.
The Sounds certainly kept moving through a long and generous set, playing songs from last year’s album, Weekend, including “Shake Shake Shake” and “Outlaw.” Ivarsson sang her heart out, while guitarist Félix Rodríguez and bassist Johan Bengtsson slugged through glam riffs from positions on either side of her. Drummer Fredrik Blond added plenty of snap to the rock-and-roll tempest. And the very talented Jesper Anderberg leapt from keyboards in the front to keyboards in the back to guitar from song to song, augmenting the new wave sizzle that make The Sounds sound so hot.
The Sounds are good in their quiet moments as well–they aren’t always a full-blown sonic assault. Midway through the set, for example, The Sounds play a few ballads–”Wish You Were Here” and “Weekend”–to change the pace a bit. “Wish You Were Here,” from the band’s excellent fourth album Something to Die For, is a particularly moving song that captures how The Sounds often can be sentimental while still having an edge. In a chat with Anderberg last year, he told me how he came to write the song. A girlfriend suggested that he write a song for her but he never got around to it until they broke up. Sad about the circumstances, he went into the studio and the song poured out of him. Strong songwriting that lends itself both to thrashing dance to quiet introspection, and doing so seamlessly, is one of the hallmarks of what distinguishes The Sounds as such a great band
In a three-song encore, The Sounds hit a very glammed up rendition of “Tony the Beat,” the seductively sweet “Rock ‘N Roll” and the defiant “Hope You’re Happy Now,” perhaps the most triumphant song to tell someone to “get lost” since “Kiss Off” by the Violent Femmes.
Soon The Sounds leave the United States for Mexico and then Europe, but catch them with Ghost Beach and Blondfire if you have the opportunity to do so as they trek through Georgia, Florida and Texas and wrap up this leg of the tour in the next week. Brooklyn trio Ghost Beach are a very good opener for The Sounds, bringing some great dance energy to the mix from the beginning with songs like “Been There Before” from their debut album, Blonde. (Ghost Beach come back to our general region for the Firefly Festival in June.) Blondfire delivered some softer dance notes thanks in part to the breathy, elegant voice of singer Erica Driscoll. The Los Angeles band presented a nice but complementary counterpoint to The Sounds and Ghost Beach with songs like “Waves” and “Young Heart.” All in all, the three bands were a perfect lineup.