SAN FRANCISCO — Sondre Lerche brought a dance party, as well as his charm, to the Independent on Tuesday. The Norwegian-born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter is currently out on tour for Pleasure, a companion piece to 2014’s Please. He emphasized the pleasure, ready for a dance party and to let loose.
Lerche entered the stage dancing to an ’80s synth intro and kicked right into the dance-heavy “Soft Feelings,” the first song off his new album. He stayed in constant motion from that point on.
Pure indie dance pop track “Bad Law” had Lerche dancing up a storm along with the audience. Later on, Lerche performed “I’m Always Watching You” solo, with only his guitar as accompaniment. He didn’t even sing into his microphone, creating one of the most touching moments of the show. It was so quiet during the song that every note rang out emphatically. Lerche’s soft vocal delivery was beautiful.
As a songwriter, Lerche has a knack for love as well heartbreak. As he sang “Legends,” his heartbreak was palpable: “Please disregard/ My endless hope/ It just paved the way/ For the end of our rope.” Without missing a beat, Lerche’s band—drummer David Heilman, bassist Jordan Brooks and keyboardist Alan James Markley—followed up the lonely number with guitar-driven “Phantom Punch.”
“Let’s revisit sins from the past,” Sondre said, introducing earlier material. He performed “No One’s Gonna Come” from his debut, Faces Down. With its jazzy guitars, the song had Lerche crooning like Burt Bacharach. The song continued to build, eventually incorporating a gaggle of thrashing guitars and an emotional punch. Like no other, Lerche segued into a slow jam. Talking about the weather, he threatened to take off his shirt (and later followed through). He serenaded women at the front of the stage during “Minor Detail.”
The beautiful soaring harmonies of Markley, Heilman and Lerche on “Two Way Monologue” made it seem like the three had been performing for years. In truth, this tour almost didn’t happen after two of his original bandmates were denied entry into the country and Brooks and Markley were last-minute replacements.
The band concluded the concert with a 15-minute party jam. Lerche hopped onto the floor and formed a dance pit with concertgoers. His arms in the air and sweat dripping down, he impored everyone to let loose with wild abandon.
New York experimental artist Fred Welton Warmsley, performing as Dedekind Cut, opened up the concert and took early arrivers down a rabbit hole into sonic exploration. Without notice, he would shift from thumping bass filled with feedback and reverb to a dark and moody mix. There was no time to acclimate with styles. As soon as it felt like there was a recognizable dance rhythm, it would morph into another genre with overlaid heavy tribal percussion. The way he played with samples and used sound to create unique mixes was amazing.