El Perro Del Mar: Live at the Bowery Ballroom (3/1/2007)
Some musicians are primarily recording artists, and others excel when they play live. Because El Perro Del Mar (Swedish singer-songwriter Sarah Assbring) plays quiet, repetitive, melancholy pop songs that are great to listen to when you’re reading or half asleep, I had her pegged as belonging to the former category. However, her recent headlining performance at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC left me pleasantly surprised to find that she has found a way to make her music thrive in a live setting.
Backed by a three-piece band of men with long hair and sharp suits, Assbring sang and strummed her guitar forcefully, rocking her shoulders back and forth with confidence. While her recordings bring to mind a lonely 1960s woman sitting at a window and gazing out at the rain, her live set was peppered with electric guitar riffs and imbued with restrained but palpable energy and a sense of resolve. It was almost as if she were a new version of the woman singing on the record – a strong, modern woman looking back and sharing her stories of harder times that were now behind her.