Sondre Lerche | 6.15.11

There is no doubt in my mind that Lerche could become one of the better songwriters in the world today.




 There was a fairly small crowd the night of June 15 during Sondre Lerche’s performance at the Old Rock House near Soulard; even by Wednesday night standards in St. Louis. However, the Norwegian-born singer/songwriter received quite the emphatic welcome from a crowd of maybe 60 people (primarily teenage girls) when he finally took the stage. If there is one thing that can be said about the smooth-voiced Lerche it is that his devilishly good looks produces a response from people that almost provides a show in itself. And it is this attribute, along with his ability to write catchy and fairly entertaining songs that makes the almost 30-year-old Lerche so popular with the new school crowds that follow a minute number of bands producing a very similar sound in today’s independent radio scene. 

Although Lerche made good with older fans in attendance by playing a handful of songs from his older outings (2004’s Two Way Monologue and 2007’s Phantom Punch), he made it a point to please the newfound fans with several new tracks from his recently released self-titled album. While Lerche might have enjoyed himself, this setlist fell on a lot of deaf ears during the early half of the show. Many in the crowd actually visited the bar and freshened their drinks before Lerche opted to jump into the older stuff and draw most of the crowd back to the stage area. Impressively enough, Lerche shined most when playing some of his much more up-tempo songs, including “Easy To Persuade” off of 2009’s Heartbeat Radio, the album which arguably gained Lerche the attention he still receives today and stuck around on a number of musical collections promoted by National Public Radio (NPR). 

By the time Lerche wound down the evening, the crowd was quick to demand more, prompting a brief, but very intimate, encore. Trying his hand at an early song, “Sleep On Needles,” written when he was only 16 years old, the crowd practically swooned and melted before Lerche. While some of the more juvenile, angsty love pop worked with the evening’s audience, I felt that there could have been more to Lerche’s performance. As talented and motivated as Lerche is in today’s endless sea of indie groups, his aim seems to have regressed from a maturation of his talents to settling for an audience base concerned with a nice flannel button-up—moccasin combo to ensure that they too are on the same page as everyone else trending to today’s indie scene. 

Albeit from one new release and one crowd to say that Lerche may not go through another shift that puts him on top with the adult crowd, but I feel that he must first go back to what made his music so meaningful in the first place. Lerche must stop trying to be so talkative about the reasoning for his lyrical choices in the middle of his set and just let the music speak for itself. If this happens, there is no doubt in my mind that Lerche could become one of the better songwriters in the world today. I just hope it happens sooner than later for the sake of good and commendable indie pop.  | Joe Witthaus


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