Sondre LercheTequila Rock, Friday, March 14 Everyone has that certain something that provides comfort during the storm -- macaroni and cheese in the throes of heartbreak, a fuzzy blanket during a storm, what have you. Scrappy young Norwegian Sondre Lerche proved himself to be the ultimate in soothing comfort in the midst of this chaotic conference, a quiet lounge in which to retreat when you want to hide from Downtown's bombast. Lerche, outfitted in jeans and a low-key plaid cowboy shirt with snaps, started out slow, with just his acoustic guitar and his intimate, honey-smooth voice broadcasting smooth and clear to the crowd, which was thick with Scandinavians. (Let's not be too alarmed that the Danish government wanted attendees to sign a mailing list in order to gauge interest in the showcase.) Using a few tracks from his Astralwerks debut, Faces Down, as a jumping-off point, and despite a brief bout of PA trouble, Lerche never abandoned his cute David Gray-esque head bobble or his beautiful trills and ascents into falsetto. Verily, there is many a young male artist that owes an enormous debt to Jeff Buckley. Lerche engaged with the crowd eagerly, encouraging them to sing along with a chorus of "na-na-nas." (Let's not quit our day jobs, shall we?) Switching to a turquoise Dan Electro about halfway through the set, Lerche hit the high point of his showcase with the retro-lounge splendor of "Faces Down," providing an aural massage for aching eardrums. What's the appeal? Perhaps it's that in an age that favors style over substance, Lerche stands up to the phonies and coos defiantly in their faces, providing an alternative to macho posturing and reminding us that it's OK to take it easy every once in a while.
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