I strolled into Webster Hall right on time -- or so I thought -- for El Perro Del Mar's 9 p.m. show and caught the songstress mid-song. Apparently the evening was running ahead of schedule (a rarity) and the Swedish singer-songwriter was more than 15 minutes into her brief, six-song set. She was on and gone in no time.
Admittedly, EPDM, known informally as Sarah Assbring, is new to me. People were whispering about her sophomore album, From the Valley to the Stars, well over a year ago but somehow I missed her. October brought her third full length, Love is Not Pop, and, at first listen, I was hooked. From her forlorn lyrics and aching delivery -- soft and slow -- to the ethereal echo of her dark, dancey tracks, Assbring had me at the album's first single, "Change of Heart." (Watch the incredible video here.)
But perhaps the most notable number I had the good fortune to catch was "A Better Love," a fairy-tale-like ditty characterized by a dulcet delivery, heaven-sent harmonies, and accented by twinkling twangs and piano strokes. Her tall frame rocked and her arms rotated in circles as if she were jogging in place.
EPDM opted not to take too much of our time and, instead, made way for headliners and fellow Swedes, Peter Bjorn & John. Their ridiculously long set, which came after an ample pause between acts (made less treacherous thanks to the live DJ spinning), was great. While they aren't at the top of my must-see list, they certainly know what it takes to put on a killer performance: tons of guest appearances. From inviting Andrew W.K. on stage to show off his absurd -- but bad ass -- dance moves, to U-N-I tearing up the stage, body-surfing and shedding some street cred on PBJ, to Spank Rock spitting rhymes, the threesome carried their first-track energy straight through to the three-song encore. The best part, however, was when EPDM re-entered, joining the boys for their monumental "Young Folks." What fun, those Swedes!
Photos by Kyle Dean Reinford