Efterklang @ Mercury Lounge, NYC


Last night I saw a ghost.

His name was Casper and he had six friends with him. Gaunt, pale, wide eyed and otherworldly, Casper sang to me. He sang to all of us. Last night.

I’m talking, of course, about Casper Clausen, frontman of the band Efterklang. They played the Mercury Lounge in NYC and if I only had one word, the show was EPIC.

I remember the cavernous venue and the rim-lit players cast in red and green lights (odd, it did feel a bit like a Christmas present, but whether belated or early who can say?). I remember the TOP GUN t-shirt and the mustaches. I remember the girl, over there in the corner, the only one not moving around the stage like a doubled-over Greek waiter.

And I remember the music. The swelling, soaring, air tight music. Some old songs, and some new ones, but it didn’t really matter (although the new ones gave me that tingly, prophetic “album-of-the-year” feeling, seriously).

I remember the violin and the flute, and the harmonies of an angel. I remember Casper’s liberal use of drumsticks and kazoo, his persistently piercing vocal delivery and clever banter. On paper, this should have been a hodgepodge of instruments and sounds, all messy and experimental. And yet, in person it was harmonious and composed, and striving for perfection. It was more ambitious and yet more cohesive than, say, an Arcade Fire concert. How unexpected, and blissful for us all.

I remember the encore. Oh, the encore. The one where they asked us (very Danishly, ie. kindly) to sing a melody for them, which we all did. They flipped the script on us, and began layering their music over OUR collective singing (which sounded eerie and beautiful, actually). They brought the drums in, and played alongside our choral wonder.

And I mean that literally: they took the snare, the kick, the high hat, and walked right off stage and into the crowd, only to set up camp right next to yours truly. We formed a circle around them as their drumming got faster and faster. We tried to keep up our singing, and did a fair job of it. But Casper helped us out, wailing his heart out in a slick sheen of serendipitous sweat.

And then… it was over. We were all left breathless, in awe of the ghost who had possibly touched our very souls (I can prove it, my jeans were even vibrating. Wait. What?). I’m still a little breathless, if truth be told.

This was Efterklang as I never remember hearing them. These songs swelled and washed over us like waves crashing against a rocky shore. One song after the other utilized the same recipe of layering and building until we couldn’t hear ourselves thinking how amazing it all was. Only after it was all over could we make sense of that thought clearly enough to analyze it.

I have to go re-listen to Efterklang now, because the band I remember seemed much more carnival than funeral. More experimental than cinematic; but not tonight. After tonight, I feel like they deserve their very own orchestra.

And yet… maybe they don’t need one at all. Ghosts can be tricky that way.


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“Efterklang @ Mercury Lounge, NYC”