You’re about to see Kristian Matsson dance with his instruments and pour out his voice into your eardrums. Live. How do you want share this experience? With whom? Sitting in my living room next to a crackling fire with a few of my friends sounds good to me. The House of Blues in Dallas was as ready for the occasion as possible. Reserved seating provided an intimate setting for a majority of the crowd, while a collection of longing fans watched standing from behind the soundboard, wishing for something more intimate. The flow of people between the bar and reserved seating was fairly steady throughout the night, further disrupting the experience. Being part of such a large crowd to see songs with personal and specific emotions and thoughts attached felt quite strange. On a few occasions it felt like a sing-a-long and on two occasions the crowd began to clap on rhythm. Until Kristian is my brother and playing in my living room for my friends and me on demand, I suppose it isn’t very fair to expect anything more.
Regardless of the non-ideal setting, The Tallest Man on Earth performed a captivating set this Wednesday night at the House of Blues. Going into the set with little real experience of his music—a few youtube videos and lots of plays for “Love is All” while largely ignoring the rest of his 2010 album the Wild Hunt—I had no real expectations after he performed the song early in the set. Matsson’s raspy voice carried melodies incredibly in the live setting. What may come across somewhat harsh and abrasive on a recording turned into golden threads tying songs together. “It Will Follow the Rain” struck a particularly compelling mood. I was quite unexpectedly arrested by Matsson’s intricate strumming and plucking patterns.
Aside from the music, a great effort was made to create a more intimate feeling. Matsson entered the stage to a Swedish folk song and excitedly skipped around the stage. He made specific eye contact with multiple attendees and waved personal welcomes to a few lucky guests. While playing his instruments, Matsson danced and interacted with them. Sitting in his red chair on stage or leaning over delicately plucking while crouched to the ground, the performance was nothing if not emotionally expressive. The way he handled the keys while performing “There’s No Leaving Now” gave as much of a punch as the lyrical delivery itself.