Cut the Clap

Ebbot Lundberg and fellow Swedes rock big, confusing fans

We all dig a big hands-clapping-above-heads rock show. But the collective will to get up the gumption for such is increasingly on the wane. It may be that gobbling up a download or two instead of sitting through whole CDs results in our clapping hands losing steam faster. Or maybe the fact that Ikea-catalog-reading score providers like Wilco and Coldplay are now considered "big rock shows."

As the Soundtrack of Our Lives began to motor through their set, hands were cocked and ready. But TSOOL—caked with that recent Swedish rock band propensity to slyly smile as they masterfully swipe a classic-rock riff or melody—employ sarcasm too thick to clap through so easily.

Singer Ebbot Lundberg, whose voice was pushed far up in the PA (perhaps because he isn't quite the bellower he once was), kept crooning of "remember when" and how "we used to be"—an odd concentration on some faded past, considering the band's recent success. After four albums, they're finally attracting willing converts, the kind who buy all the CDs and tees before the show. Their 2003 CD, Behind the Music, cracked the U.S. charts and provided that year's most anthemic hit, "Sister Surround." But there the crowd stood, heads bobbing serviceably but a bemused look on their mugs, like they missed something. Perhaps the delayed reaction was due to the band's decision not to rush into things. They began with the opener from their new CD, Origin Vol. 1 (Universal). "I believe I found a better way to satisfy your kind," explained Lundberg. The band relied on a preponderance of that next, most approachable, but still domestically unreleased album.

Their goofy duds and infectious buddy-up stage demeanor tempered the drunken Pink Floyd fry-outs that ruffled the final minute of most tunes. Still, the band's cathartic heave-ho through songs like "Heading for a Breakdown" didn't rouse the crowd. But then just as Lundberg bemoaned, "This is the end of a broken imaginary time," hands went up, clapped, etc. The band then walloped 'em with that "Sister Surround," including a comeback-on-stage reprise. Nailing the half-hour encore with the sing-along "21st Century Rip Off," Lundberg tripped off and lumbered through the crowd, as backs were slapped, and all was well with the big rock world, at least for a night.

 
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