For 12 years, D.C.-area Kings of Convenience fans have been waiting for their chance to sway and sing along to the Norwegian guitar duo’s beautiful music.
“It must be a relief to see that we can still play!”
For 12 years, D.C.-area Kings of Convenience fans have been waiting for their chance to sway and sing along to the Norwegian guitar duo’s beautiful music, and it was comforting to see that Erlend Øye hadn’t lost his trademark wit. The way that Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe interweave their intricate guitar-picking around one another while sounding so carefree is still an aural treat, but getting to hear it all in person after being away for so long feels extra special. The duo released three albums between 2001 (Quiet is the New Loud, a mission statement of sorts for them) and 2009 (Declaration of Dependence), and then went dormant. Øye moved to Sicily and Bøe remained in Norway, but the two spent five years working on their latest album, Peace or Love, between 2016 and 2021.
Fans traveled near and far for this long-sold-out show at 9:30 Club. At one point between songs, Øye asked the crowd, “Where’d everyone come from?” Some yelled back: “Miami!” “Tennessee!” “¡México!” Making the night extra special was the fact that it was also Bøe’s 48th birthday. The crowd sang Bøe happy birthday after some playful goading from Bøe (“And you can’t even even sing a fucking song for me, what’s wrong with you?”, he said with a sardonic smile). For the encore, Øye ‘gifted’ Bøe a solo acoustic Burt Bacharach of “Something Big,” letting Bøe take in the performance along with the rest of the contented crowd.
Kings of Convenience’s self-described mission statement is to make rhythm with just acoustic guitars, something they called a “liberating feeling” to not have to worry about things like drums, electric guitars, and bass. Their delicately fingerpicked guitar lines rang brightly throughout the silent room, with reverb on “24-25” sounding more like it came from a cathedral than a club. They exuded a sense of comfort and stillness with every harmony in the silent venue.
Still, they opted to make the final third of their show a bit more upbeat by inviting Paco Rosas on bass and Jorge Aguilar on drums. They supercharged songs like 2009’s “Rule My World” and “Boat Behind” with octave-jumping bass lines and hi hat-filled backbeats, funky reimaginings that are closer in musical DNA to Øye’s alter ego, The Whitest Boy Alive. Øye came alive during these songs’ extended interludes, revving the crowd up to clap and dance, all the while making up his own dance moves on stage. By the time the disco ball shone bright across the room for main set closer “I’d Rather Dance With You,” it was already clear that this show was a special one, one that was worth the 12-year wait.
Note: all photos taken of Kings of Convenience were from the band’s soundcheck earlier that day at 9:30 Club. Photos by Mauricio Castro.