Last night, Wildbirds & Peacedrums—a married couple from Sweden who make folk music weird enough to match their band’s name—played New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Although they were the openers for Britain’s Fanfarlo, who performed a set of thumping Arcade Fire-esque anthems that justified their growing buzz, W&P were the evening’s focal point.
Like Björk or Kate Bush, it’s hard to imagine anyone else touching the strange, fantastic place these two Wildbirds tap for inspiration. And crazily enough, they relay their weird world using not much more than Mariam Wallentin’s soulful vocals and her husband Andreas Werliin’s tribal drumming. Check out one of their vids after the jump.
This simplicity is part of what makes Wildbirds & Peacedrums so compelling: While other experimental bands labor to create something new and unearthly, these two return to the most basic elements—deep vocals and pounding rhythms—to make music that sounds fresh and original but still wholly human.
The set’s highlight was an unhinged version of “Today/Tomorrow” off of their last record, 2008’s The Snake. The unhinged performance wasn’t “difficult,” “challenging,” or any other distant term of praise people apply to arty bands—it was joyful and inviting. While Mariam furiously ran in place, beating a tambourine with a drumstick and bopping her head like a preschooler on Pixy Stix, Andreas attacked his drums with the energy of a runner on the home stretch.
Even though they had veered off into creative Never Never Land, the thrill of their physical joy brought the audience into their realm without reservations. Free-form experimentation is rarely this much fun.
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