It was during a particularly long shift at the retail job I worked in college that I was introduced to Swedish indie new wavers The Sounds. While ringing up a customer’s purchase, I heard Maja Ivarsson’s feminine yet raspy voice singing about how she gave her heart to rock and roll. I hurriedly finished the transaction before printing out a strip of blank receipt paper on which to write a snippet of the lyrics so I could look up the song when I got home that evening (that’s how we did things before Shazam, kids).
Having been a fan since their debut album days, it was almost a little hard to believe that I was just last Saturday finally getting around to seeing The Sounds live for the first time. A particularly hearty post-horribly-long-work-week nap meant that I groggily found myself at Club Nokia having missed all the opening acts, which was kind of a bummer since I was very much looking forward to Aussie synth-poppers Strange Talk and local indie poppers Blondfire.
The residual sleepiness I felt was blasted away when the opening riffs of the aptly titled “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake” began to play. Frontwoman Maja Ivarsson’s appearance on the stage and the resulting almost-rabid screams of the audience ensured the band would have my full attention for the duration of the night.
With the swagger, attitude, and voice of a blonder Joan Jett, Ivarsson deftly commanded the stage. Her energy was downright infectious, and despite the reputation that LA crowds have for being notoriously difficult to rouse, she managed to do so effortlessly. Her chain-smoking, beer-drinking, no-fucks-to-give attitude only added to her mystique.
Ivarsson energetically blasted through tracks from The Sounds’ five album catalog. “Shake Shake Shake” had the crowd doing just as the title commanded while the more stripped down “Wish You Were Here” showcased Ivarsson’s husky vocals. Prior to “Weekend” she thanked the audience for their support, concluding with the statement “Every fucking day is a weekend to me,” a sentiment the crowd seemed to appreciate. However, the set highlight was without a doubt the band’s energetic rendition of “Living In America,” which sent the crowd into a crazed frenzy.
Although my personal favorite track of the encore set was the one that introduced me to the band, “Rock & Roll,” many in the audience would probably give that distinction to the closing track of the night, “Hope You’re Happy Now,” during which one errant fan was able to sneak past security in the front and crawl up on stage. When security tried to detain the intrepid attendee, Ivarsson stopped them, opening the floodgates for more revelers to rush the stage and finish the night by her side.
Although I went into the evening looking forward to finally seeing The Sounds, I vastly underestimated how electrifying their performance would be. Will I be seeing them again? Oh. Hell. Yes.
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