I had missed The Tallest Man on Earth in the spring due to work (one of the worst excuses to miss a show), but I was certainly glad to hear about his return to Dallas in the Cambridge Room (HOB). As I walked in, I heard House of Blues event coordinators trying to direct us to “The Tallest Man Alive,” probably thinking it was a circus act. However, it was less freaky and more entertaining than any circus acts I’ve been to.
S. Carey, Sean Carey’s (Bon Iver’s drummer) solo project, was an ear-pleasing opener. Offering a sound somewhere between Wisconsin and Sigur Ros, S. Carey was a great choice for opening act. Playing various songs from his full length LP All We Grow, Sean and his live band created phenomenal, overlapping harmonies. Since S. Carey is a recently established band, my knowledge of the band was limited to the overheard phrase: “Someone from Bon Iver’s solo project.” After being surprised by his appearance and with no expectations in mind, I really think S. Carey nailed it. “In the Dirt” and “Mothers” were two notable songs among many. Carey explored the opportunities of live music, ultimately ending the show with a powerful, percussion encore.
After a long time waiting, Kristian Matsson finally came on stage. Expecting him to be a million feet tall, he was only a mere 5’6 (tiny and adorable). From then on, the show was filled with Matsson’s serenades and the crowd continually screaming, “I LOVE YOU.” Matsson played a “Best Of” collection containing tunes from The Wild Hunt, the 2006 Self-Titled EP, Shallow Grave, and his newest EP, Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird.
Throughout the night, Tallest Man’s tunes inspired audience-initiated sing-a-longs… and bouncing. Yet, these happy, cheery times were also carried on with moments of complete silence, where Matsson played some of his most heartbreaking songs. Powerful songs like “Where Do My Bluebirds Fly” and “Love Is All” left me (and others) with goose-bumps, but other upbeat songs such as “King of Spain,” “The Sparrow and The Medicine,” and “The Gardner” kept the audience smiling. Whether it be his minimal talking, aside from the occasional sincerely awkward thank you, or his intense eye contact with various audience members, there is something about Kristian Matssons presence that draws in the crowd. The show was extremely intimate, with a small crowd and stage, all for one man and his guitars.
This was my first time seeing him, but it certainly won’t be my last. He may not be physically the “Tallest Man” as he proclaims, but Matssons live performances are parallel to his moniker in one little man, lies one hell of a performance. If you like shows that leave your cheeks hurting due to musically induced smirks (not the creepy kind), definitely catch Tallest Man on Earth next time he’s in town. And S. Carey too!