Sondre Lerche at Altar Bar (Oct. 20, 2014)

For the last stop on his North America tour, Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche brought his own particular brand of rhythmic indie-pop to Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar. Opener Chris Holm warmed the audience up with a soulful vocal-and-guitar set, and then joined Lerche on stage to play bass, along with drummer David Heilman.

Touring in support of his most recent release, Please, Lerche quickly launched into a series of songs from the new album, starting with “After the Exorcism,” followed by the upbeat single “Bad Law.” Lerche’s music is always disarmingly earnest, and newer songs also demonstrate a tendency start simply only to devolve into distortion or exuberant instrumental jamming. This translated well to a live performance, with Lerche and his band ripping through newer tracks, which then provided a pleasant counterpoint to older acoustic material.

As always, the most charming aspect of Lerche’s live performance was his loose, conversational tone in addressing the audience. He engaged in some banter in quiet moments between songs, and was wryly self-deprecating after forgetting the middle verse to an older song. “I have a setlist. I just don’t respect it,” he told an audience member who suggested that he stick to the agenda. “Two Way Monologue” later became an exuberant audience sing-along as Lerche initiated an extended call-and-response chorus. He remained engaged with the audience throughout, launching into “Wet Ground” during his encore based on the shouted suggestion of an audience member. Closing track “Modern Nature” cast the audience as Lerche’s duet partner, ending the set on a communal note. Lerche, of course, stayed long after the end of the set to sign merch and take photos with fans, who eventually dispersed, already looking forward to the next time they would be able to catch him on tour.

Post by Gesina Phillips.