jj with Lia Ices at the Knitting Factory BK on March 30, 2010
Swedish young’ns jj played their first headlining show in New York to a sold-out crowd at the Knitting Factory on Tuesday. Opening for jj was Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Lia Ices, who played a pleasant and rather uneventful set.
We were mostly just psyched to see jj; after hearing and loving their album jj N° 2 when it hit the US last Summer, we were looking forward to hearing their woozy pop tunes live. Unfortunately for jj, woozy translates to drowsy, especially when there is little to watch! The duo, who prefer to remain rather anonymous in the media (their tour manager assured me that it would be difficult to get an interview and that they wouldn’t want to see this blog post!), had little to no stage presence. The singer, who only goes by Elin, started out the set seated, with a few guitar-only tunes including her cover The Game’s of “My Life.”
The lack of energy was only emphasized by the lack of live instrumentation—the entire set was mostly prerecorded. Elin looked uncomfortable on the stage by herself, and only smiled when guitarist Joakim was on stage with her. The crowd was excited to hear some favorites from both N° 2 and the new album, N° 3, including “Ecstacy,” “From Africa to Malaga,” and “Let Go.” For music that sounds so enticing on an Ipod, we expected more from the live show. Maybe some instrumentation, at least? A word or two? Any indication that Elin wanted to be there? The audience was definitely excited—guys behind us were hooting throughout the set and shouting song requests. Elin barely moved. Needless to say, we were disappointed.
The set closed with Elin and her guitar again, this time with a cover of Roky Erickson’s “It’s a Cold Night for Alligators” (which was the only exciting, eye-opening moment of the night for us. See our writeup on Roky’s new endeavors here). We think (and hope) that jj’s aloofness can be chalked up to youth and inexperience, specifically in regard to touring. We had the same reaction after seeing the xx a few months back—great songs but also very little energy in performance. JudyJams saw them again on Wednesday (with opener jj, who did a similar set and seemed petrified of the large crowd), and the Brits in the xx were much improved. Guess it just takes time and practice. We will hold out for jj!