Music Review - Casiokids at Schuba's

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Endresen (L) and Johnsen (R) of the Casiokids at Schuba's 25 August 2010

 

My friend Eric turned me on to the band Casiokids, a quintet from Bergen, Norway.  This group whose sound is described by others as "electro-pop" is touring in support of their release "Topp stemning på lokal bar" (whatever that means.)  The kids toured Europe last year with "Of Montreal" who recommended them to their label Polyvinyl records, which is how they got on Eric's radar.

That album has been a staple in my iPod, especially when I found out a several weeks ago that they were coming to town.  So I returned the favor by grabbing two tickets (yes, I pay for own tickets - so please help popularize this blog, so I can start getting some freebies,) and insisting that Eric accompany me to the gig at Schuba's. 

It was well worth it, even though the show was an hour long, it was lively, hopping, and sonically wonderful, with a great pulsating beat.  The songs are all sung in Norwegian, so I can't understand a word of it, but they sing in a very melodic way, so the vocals just become another instrument.

 


 

They are all very talented, keyboardists Ketil Kinden Endresen and Omar Johnsen can both play guitar as well, and did so during the show.  Similarly, guitarist Fredrik Ogreid Vogsborg at one point played the keyboards.  Endersen bears a slight resemblance to the musician Beck (as opposed to Jeff Beck, hero and guitarist supreme.) He stills plays a Casio keyboard (that's how the band got its name) in concert. Even the drummer got into the act, stepping up to the keyboard, while Johnsen pounded the skins.

They have become quite popular in their homeland, playing in venues holding 500-1000 people.  Last night, there were probably 80-100 people at Schuba's, but that didn't dull the atmosphere one bit.  This is their fifth visit to the US, and second trip to Chicago.  Casiokids spent several days both this year and last at the SXSW festival in Austin.

Their popularity at home got a huge boost when they were selected as one of four finalists to that won a one million Norwegian kronor (about $150,000) prize as best up and coming artists in their native country.  In fact, the kids had to cut this US tour short, because after their show in Detroit tonight, they jet back to Bergen to play a stadium gig with the band a-ha ("Take on Me") who sponsored the prize won by the Casiokids.  They return to Los Angeles for a show in October.  So catch them in the Motor City, or in the City of Angels.  I took lots of great pictures, and include a video link. Their song "Fot i Hose" was included in the soundtrack for the FIFA '10 Soccer video game (ok - there's my sports reference for the day.)

What made the evening truly exceptional was that after the show, Endresen and Johnsen were simply hanging around.  I got to speak with both.  Endresen was at the table were a friend was selling merchandise, including a vinyl single which I bought.  His English was terrific and he was happy to talk about the band and its history, and how they honed their skills on the festival circuit the past two years.  Endresen and Johnsen met at university. The rest of the members knew each other through the Norwegian music scene.  Johnsen talked about winning the music prize and returning to Europe to play the a-ha gig.  It was very refreshing to see them as very down to earth and eager to gauge our reaction to the show.  The performance, interactions, and post show chat earns them a home run - four stars.

 


 

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  • Here was my Song of the Day recap of the show last night for your perusal...Song of the Day - "Finn Bikkjen!" by Casiokids from their 2010 U.S. debut album "Casiokids." I really like this band...in fact I like them so much I went to see them last night at a small Chicago club called Schubas. Things you learn about a band that you cannot tell from their album jacket...1. They are a 5-piece band...not three people in furry costumes...2. They are all guys in spite of the high-pitched vocals....3. While people in furry animal costumes play a large part of the album art, only one furry animal was involved with the show...4. They're all mulit-instrumentalists who switch instruments throughout the show...5. They all speak English even though all of their music is in their native Swedish tongue...6. They're even better live!

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