Swedish rock and roll ambassadors, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, made a highly anticipated visit (for those whose serotonin levels boil for large melodies and a stage presence not to be questioned) on Friday, February 26, 2010 at The El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. They were on tour to support their latest release, Communion, which is a double length record… yes, that’s double length. Imagine that, especially in this age of short attention spans and digital dicking-around! Besides being in an area of Los Angeles that basically consists of no nightlife and at a venue which by fire marshall’s orders, has had to cut it’s maximum capacity in half, you could still feel the energy brewing in the musty air of the near hundred year old El Rey Theatre. And I must note that upon entering the venue, press and photo access was initially denied as their American public relations representative failed to keep their documented promise of a clean entry. We worked our magic, but it doesn’t get any more amature and Hollywood than that folks! Still not the best start, but with a few simple gestures and a couple broken sentences… you will always find yourself fueling up at the bar and sizing down the prey of the hunting grounds within seconds.
Opening the show was L.A. based Nico Vega. The house was packed, but there wasn’t much to say about this part of the performance. If you like stage theatre and directionless music, then you might give them a chance (that would just be an opinion but…). By the end of the Nico Vega set, nearly half of the punters, and mostly highbrows, cleared out just minutes before TSOOL hit the stage. No matter. Nothing was ever going to stop the ax-wielding Vikings of snow-peaked anthems and lullabies from stealing the night.
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives took the spotlight just as one would expect them to, with vocalist Ebbot Lundberg entering in all his glory. A long flowing robe, beads and necklaces of unknown, cult-like origin. Enough of an entrance to make you get on your toes, open the receptors and say “alright, let’s have it!” or to throw your arms over your head, shriek into a little ball and pray for the lives of you and the other villagers. Either way you put it, an ominous assault.
It was the thunderous opening track off Communion, “Babel On,” which opened set. A great stomper and a perfect tune to set the mood for the soldiers left in the crowd, men and women alike, as they closed in towards the foot of the stage. The set that night would find itself all over TSOOL’s discography. Many of the more up-tempo songs on Communion such as “Thrill Me” made their appearances, as well as did classics such as “Sister Surround” and “Broken Imaginary Time” from their “Behind the Music” LP. I believe even a few their prior album Origin, Vol.1 made there way into the set, but I can’t be too sure as the melodies and the booze started to intertwine at this point and notes would not be further taken.
As the set hammered on, Ebbot’s eyes became wider and wider, that of a crazed grizzly bear on six and a half hits of stems and caps. The head on Martin, the keyboardist, began to swivel more violently and for a split moment, it looked as it might slip right off. The intensity was there. For the gig-closer, TSOOL would be joined by Nico Vega and Wayne Kramer for soundman’s-nightmare rendition of the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams.” A jolly good way to set the exit mood as we headed out to find the nearest pub about two miles away.
In conclusion, this was a top performance by a great rock and roll group. Classic ideals and a classic performance through a modern sound. Let a group like TSOOL pave the way for the bands of the future. Let them remind us that great pop music is about the simple things. The soul of the performance, the wailing guitars, mysterious organs, and pounding drums that all push behind an honest voice that grinds out to the heavens commanding your attention… as the smile and the hairs on your neck slowly rise.
Written and Photography by Curt from The Bixby Knolls