Live: Sondre Lerche at Culture Room, November 17

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Sondre Lerche
With Peter Wolf Crier
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Better than: Saving money by not coming at all.

Sondre Lerche is the face of the economic woes befalling independent musicians everywhere. There was no hiding the minuscule turnout Thursday at Culture Room, but the showing onstage was just as small. Fortunately, the Norwegian singer/songwriter plays with the winning poise of a man who has seen a wealth of different rooms over the course of his

career -- and knows how to conquer them.

Lerche played most of his intricate pop-rock songs solo using either a blue vintage Gretsch electric, a white dobro-style electric, or a delightful sunburst acoustic. And when he needed extra accompaniment onstage, he enlisted either the audience or the willing fellows from opener Peter Wolf Crier. As we already gathered from Lerche's interview with County Grind, in this setup, "All there is, is the song and the emotion and excitement you can create out of that onstage in front of people."

Shaving corners off of the memorable, multifaceted arrangements for older songs, such as "Two Way Monologue," did take away from their impact a smidge, but overall, this strategy resonated with the feverish crowd. Lerche changed his position and tone for nearly every song. His blue-eyed, boyish face was as close as possible when he sat on the front of the stage and sang without amplification for a few songs to the delight of the primarily female crowd and got fierce enough that he climatically broke a string during "Dead Passengers." 

More recent fare, like the acoustic "My Hands Are Shaking" and new single "Domino," almost seems to reflect the anticipation of leaner times when a big studio budget is less of a reality and Lerche has to handle making tour travel arrangements for himself. Of course, when he referred to "booking good deals," he mentioned that he was particularly fond of pretending his opening/backing band's singer Peter Pisano's name actually is Peter Wolf Crier.

The songs that overlapped between PWC and Lerche also included a spirited cover of INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" to end the support act's set. This was a needed charge of energy after watching the Minneapolis trio take a decidedly mellow approach to their introspective material. The dark-haired Pisano, who performed seated with a variety of gadgets underneath his feet that allow for vocal overdubs and other noise layers, seemed a little too caught up in his own world with his eyes closed through most of the performance. It then became the charge of mallet-wielding drummer Brian Moen to pound out some action onstage.

Although there were moments when Peter Wolf Crier moodily stirred the pot successfully -- "Settling It Off" and "Beach" especially let Pisano's voice (more on that here) beautifully hang in the air -- it would have been better for him to sacrifice the gadgetry and get on his feet for some of the proceedings. Though it's scary to think that the song and the emotion and the excitement can be enough, but the headliner proved it can be done.

Critic's Notebook

Random notebook dump: Someone behind me whispered "cocksucker" when I moved closer to the front of the stage.

The crowd: Could sing along with every word of Lerche's material. A few of them raised their hands when Pisano asked if anyone had heard of his band.

Personal bias: You don't have to tell the crowd to download your music for free the way Pisano did. But owning both of Peter Wolf Crier's albums is wise.

Follow County Grind on Facebook and Twitter: @CountyGrind.

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