Lewsberg at the Latest music bar is my 4th gig since the start of the pandemic, and the 3rd “normal” gig in that period. The venue itself doesn’t seem like it is quite ready for it. One floor looks quite shabby, the main venue bar is closed. The bar that is open doesn’t have draft drinks due to a shortage of carbon dioxide. In this sense the gig is a perfect illustration of a country waking up and trying to get back to normal post pandemic.
Lewsberg are an interesting proposition, unique and yet you can’t miss the influences in their music. Their use of sprechgesang (spoken singing) sets them apart but is also incredibly in vogue with Dry Cleaning and Wet Leg both making use of the style this year. The music itself has a big debt to the Velvet Underground, swinging wildly between harsh edged and extremely mellow through the evening.
One change of musical pace for them is the introduction of violin into the set, for songs from their latest release In Your Hands, and this extra texture works beautifully.
The whole set works beautifully from start to finish. Some songs are very short, more like accompanied poems, and some songs have extended (and often noisy) musical break-downs. The spoken lyrics make the words very easy to hear, and each songs is a slightly oblique puzzle of a story.
The band have a very distinctive look. Arie and Michiel stand either side of the stage, strangely impassive throughout. Arie providing only a few words between songs, the odd “thank you” and a “we don’t normally do this but you have been so kind” when they return to the stage to play an encore. Between them the rhythm section of Dico and Shalita groove quietly through the evening, and even look to enjoy themselves at times.
It is a pretty perfect set and I recommend seeking out the band’s music (all here on Bandcamp) and seeing them live if they make it near your town.
Words and pictures Dorian Rogers