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flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 7 - 05/22/97

Astroburger / Sportsguitar
Live at So What!, Oslo, May 13th 1997

Sportsguitar, the Swiss guitar(yes)-pop-duo-turned-quartet-when-playing-live undertook a Norwegian Tour (!) recently and some of the Luna Kafe staff members therefore had the opportunity to see and hear one of the best combos to emerge from the land of the coo-coo-clock since The Young Gods. As I hadn't seen the support act, Astroburger, since 1995, this was a most exciting double-bill on paper.

Astroburger, with more than 10 years and 3 LPs behind them, are veterans of the Oslo indie-pop scene, but I feel that their latest record, Stand On It, is a bit too "adult" for my taste. Live, however, they have become a tighter unit than they used to be, and to my satisfaction, they still have room to keep some of their older favourites in their set. I am particularly pleased with including some of their silly instrumentals which played such an important role on their two first LPs, and Geir Stadheims skills as a pop composer is unquestionable (listen to Gentian Violet as played by The Tables). His vocal style together with a 70's synthesiser gives the band their own distinct style. They have obviously discovered the possibilities of the wah-wah pedal, and at times I think both the guitars and the old Crumar was treated with this effect. Psychedelic!

But where is "Lada 1500"?

Sportsguitar looked a bit uncomfortable with playing live, especially in the beginning, and problems with their stage monitoring didn't exactly help in that matter. I regard their 1996 LP, Married, 3 Kids (Our Own Records) as one of the more important releases from Europe in later years, and we got to hear about many songs from this during the concert. Oliver Obert is capable of writing pure pop songs of a very high quality, not far from those which used to pop up on the records Lou Reed made back in the days while he was still able to smile, and his laid-back vocal delivery is not far from the grumpy one, either.

In addition we got some newer songs (or where they from their first kind of hard-to-find debut LP ?; they even have a single out on Sub Pop), which sounded promising. The other "original" Sportsguitar, or shall we say the SPORTSGUITARIST of the group, Roli Saum, was a true revelation to see and hear. His use of effect pedals, guitar noise and feedback was much more distinct live than on record, and was partly why the band had problems with their sound.

Even though Sportsguitar is a pop band, I feel that their music requires several listens, and unfortunately, not many in the audience was familiar with their material. After a while the interest thus wore off, but some of us cheered enough to get them back for an encore, though.

Don't miss Married, 3 Kids now that it soon will be widely distributed in Europe; Never Waste from this LP is maybe THE pop song of 1996, and it was still ringing in my ears on my way home after a most inspiring night.

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