Fever Ray (aka the electronic pagan forest goddess)

This past Wednesday was the Fever Ray show at the Henry Fonda.  After missing The Knife when they toured awhile back and subsequently seeing videos of how crazy those shows were, I knew Fever Ray was not to be missed.  (As quick explanation, Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson is/was(?) part of the critically acclaimed duo of The Knife and Fever Ray is her solo project).  “Not to be missed” was an understatement.

The show was a perfectly choreographed spectacle.  And to take place at the Fonda was kinda ridiculous.  Although the place is one of my favorite venues, I never would’ve thought it could accommodate the lasers, laser mirrors, antique lamps and industrial smoke machines needed to pull this thing off.  They even needed to set up Fever Ray’s own special sound and light board on the ground floor in the back by the steps (the Fonda’s regular soundboard is in the upper deck).

The show started in almost pitch black darkness (would’ve been nice if they could’ve turned off the bar lights) and when the curtains opened, the entire audience was hit with a slowly creeping billow of thick smoke.  For a bit you couldn’t see much past the person in front of you.  Seriously, these guys re-created the foggy night I had just experienced with Bon Iver at Hollywood Forever, but indoors.  As the opener, “If I Had a Heart” slowly churned away, you could only catch glimpses of who was on stage, but it looked like the Gozer-esque warped vocals were coming from some kind of hunched/horned/buffalo/mossy log looking thing.  All of this gave the impression that we were being addressed by something – a force of nature, or a reflection of the darker side of our collective subconscious.

The group was only lit from behind – with antique lamps no less – to keep them shrouded in mystery.  The two laser beams were just a hint of to the lightshow to come.

(yes that lumpy horned mound is her)

Rounding out the band was a guy on a laptop looking like a combo of someone in a New Order video and Whoopi Goldberg in Star Trek the Next Generation (please just forget I made those two references), some skeleton monkey man on guitar and – what is missing on most of the videos – on the far left there was a shaman on bongos wielding a feathered rain-stick.  These pics reveal it a bit better than what we could see in the audience:

our pagan goddess revealed

our pagan goddess revealed

the bongo shaman

the bongo shaman

Later, Andersson would abandon the Forest Goddess getup and reveal herself – even getting lit from the front for some songs including one of the album’s highlights, “When I Grow Up,” but she preserved the creepiness with cadaver-white make-up:

To get an idea of how powerful the smoke machine was, watch the band member disappear at the 2:40 mark.

One more clip, showing the lasers doing their thing:

The buzz on the internet from this tour is no joke, this was a supremely memorable show and that’s saying something with the number of memorable shows happening in LA these days.  Part of me wishes I had brought my camera to record for posterity but more of me is glad that I simply stood there and enjoyed every beautiful and creepy moment of it. Besides, like every show these days, it was well documented, as these videos attest.  For some reviews that did a better job of describing it than me, go here and here.

There seems to be a strong tribal/primeval streak in indie music today both in terms of the music itself and/or the performance of the music (e.g. Animal Collective, seeing Bon Iver in a graveyard, Dan Deacon – at least in terms of performing on the floor and having people encircle him like a campfire).  I’m wondering if that is just a currently popular style or if it’s in reaction to the same techno-dread Radiohead so effectively taps into.  Seeing Fever Ray was a reminder that – especially in these troubled, chaotic times – we are still irrational creatures with monstrous Ids but also full of mystic optimism.


1 Response to “Fever Ray (aka the electronic pagan forest goddess)”

  1. 1 Sarah Klingelheber
    October 31, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    You rock. When are you going to invite us out for some of this amazing music…or will any of it ever come to this little cow-town.

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