Words and photos by Sarahana
Sweden's Kristian Matsson, who performs as The Tallest Man on Earth, played to an adoring slew of 18-and-older fans at Bowery Ballroom this week. The crowd was mostly attentive, but the silence was punctuated by declarations of love, erratic screams of joy, and raised hands doing desperate dances in the air to vie for his attention.
This has been Matsson's first headlining tour, but having opened for Bon Iver before, New Yorkers who follow him have quickly learned of his charming personality on stage. He roams from one corner to the next, looking you straight in the eye, letting his dramatically stern face break into a smile every now and then. He barely speaks, but when he does it's always pleasant. The enchantment ultimately comes from the music, though. An acoustic guitar is his only accompaniment but the meticulously arranged finger-picking is evocative of a billion things, the lyrics are playful yet affecting, and the voice is his devoted medium.
There was one precious moment that was a result of a happy accident, and which was cheered vigorously by the crowd: his guitar jack stopped working mid-song, and the audience, well-versed in concert traditions, immediately screamed for an "acoustic" set. Wearing a bemused look on his face, Matsson sat on a chair and sang stooping towards the microphone that faced the guitar. When the audience laughed at this desperate posture, he raised his head and gestured a theatrical "shhh." This setup sounded magical, but a new and functioning jack was quickly supplied.