I WAS THERE: The Whitest Boy Alive? Clearly You Haven’t Met Us, Erlend Øye!

Erlend Øye waves goodbye at Modular's Nevereverland show in Sydney

Words and Photo by Andrew Parks

The Artist & Their Latest Release: The Whitest Boy Alive, Rules (Bubbles, 2009)

The Show: Music Hall of Williamsburg, 4.21.10

The Set In a Few Sentences: Don’t let those last-picked-in-gym-class glasses fool you. As Kings of Convenience fans know full well, Erlend Øye isn’t just one hell of a singer. He’s one hell of a showman, a master of ceremonies with the ability to hold a crowd’s attention for 60 minutes at a time despite how simple his songwriting is.

In the case of Kings, Øye and his longtime collaborator (Eirik Glambeck Bøe) stick to nothing but strummed guitars, honey-dipped harmonies and the occasional windswept string. And when he’s doing the robot with the Whitest Boy Alive, Øye is rounded out by a well-balanced backing band that includes the loose drumbeats of Sebastian Maschat, the mirror ball bass lines of Marcin Oz, and the quartet’s real secret weapon, keyboardist Daniel Nentwig. As if Øye wasn’t already confident enough onstage (at one point, he said with a smile, “We have so many good songs, it’d be a shame to not play them all”), Nentwig is easily the most unhinged organ grinder we’ve ever seen. (Seriously–he flipped his Moog on its side at one point and latched right onto a killer lead that’d make James Murphy blush.)

Without Nentwig, the band would sound like a woozy, lounge singer version of Studio 54. With him, they’re one of the most entertaining dance-rock bands you’ll ever see. Now, if only they could tour here enough to make stateside kids care. While Wednesday’s show was the second night of a rare New York City run, it was almost entirely made up of European transplants. Which kinda made the following question a rhetorical one: “Are there any girls in the audience?” Øye asked to a round of cheers. “What do you think of European boys?” We’re pretty sure they already knew the answer to that one.

And a Letter Grade: A-