Review: Theresa Andersson; January 25, 2009 at The Casbah; San Diego

The crowd at the Casbah gazed skeptically at the short, spritely Swedish woman in their midst. Scheduled as the opening act for Tapes ‘N Tapes and Wild Light—two fast, all-male rock bands—the woman quietly ascended to a stage littered with unmanned instruments. When she introduced the inanimate objects as her band, and people realized that she would be playing all of them by herself, the venue’s early arrivals began to nervously eye the exits. But all that changed when Theresa Andersson took off her shoes.

Standing at the center of a shag-carpeted circle of instruments, Andersson grabbed instrument after instrument with the speed and precision of a busy restaurant’s head chef reaching for the spice rack. Guitar, violin, drums, dulcimer: each was a different brick with which Andersson crafted her towering musical displays. Feeding layer after layer into her dual loop stations, Andersson created live versions of songs off her latest album Hummingbird, Go! that sounded every bit as polished and accomplished as the recordings themselves.

Andersson possesses more dexterity in her feet than many musicians do in their hands. Her toes jumped nimbly from one pedal to the next, recording loops and twisting knobs. Her percussion often consisted of her beating the daylights out of her floor-toms with a tambourine, or a slapped microphone and hand claps looped into a surprisingly authentic-sounding beat box groove. And though she excelled at every instrument in her arsenal—including the slide violin from “Hi-Low” that she was forced to play with a Corona bottle—Andersson’s greatest weapon is her singing. Her warm, soulful vocals were amplified by a confidence that dwarfed the sight of the petite woman with Jenny Lewis-bangs belting them out.

Wisely sticking to the heaviest hitters from Hummingbird, Go!, Andersson kept the energy high. From the joyful catchiness of “Na Na Na” to the bare emotion of the Swedish-language “Innan Du Gar”, Andersson demonstrated a range of emotion that rivaled the diversity of her instruments. Her energy was boundless yet never obnoxious, and even if the novelty of her one-woman show had disappeared—which it never did—Andersson’s unabashed joy in creating music would be more than enough to keep any crowd enthralled.

While most solo artists are solo in name only, disregarding the efforts of their anonymous backing bands, Theresa is the real deal. In a musical climate that is too often permeated with pretension and maudlin posturing, Theresa Andersson’s ecstatic charisma and inventive talent are a breath of much-needed fresh air. Her new album is aptly named; Andersson’s performances contain all of the graceful, kinetic beauty of a hummingbird taking flight.

Live video for “Na Na Na”, from Hummingbird, Go!, recorded in Theresa’s kitchen:

4 thoughts on “Review: Theresa Andersson; January 25, 2009 at The Casbah; San Diego”

  1. I saw her whole set on the first Three Mile Pilot night.
    It was uh, well-accomplished, but some major criticisms
    that ruin it… even if you don’t SEE her it’s a dealbreaker.
    -she smiles too much (I know this may seem weird but it’s true)
    -she tries to sing “BLACK” and I don’t know..
    -too poppy, extremely so.

    That one dark violin song is rad.
    And did she do the accapella song? That was good.

    None of it was bad performance-wise (except for
    the smiling), execution, accuracy…. just I can’t say it was good.

    1. In regards to the your shallow inane comment about Theresa Andersson: She smiles too much. Maybe this is part of her character and she is completely swept up in the music. If you saw her live with an open mind and heart, you will know that she is genuine. Sorry you have a problem with smiles, maybe you need more. She sings too black. I could take a shot at your education level or racist tendencies, but that would be too obvious. She lives in New Orleans and has taken in much of the culture, but it is HER VOICE….what does a black voice sound like anyway? (Does Seal sound like Al Green?) Why did you even stay for the concert with all your complaints? Wasn't there a John Tesh or Kenny G affair that would be kinder to your ears and intellect? Good luck in your musical education (which you need).

  2. Excellent review. Especially like the “maudlin posturing” bit. I’m going to have to see her act, besides the totally awesome YouTube vid. Thanks for that.

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