lodet’s Calling

A clear summer morning—that was how I felt Calling was when I heard it, coincidentally, at the tail-end of summer in my part of the world last year. A scene of a top down car driving on a road beside a field of verdant grass was what came to mind after giving it a listen. The song was bright and sunny but laid-back. An airy guitar sound that entered around the one minute mark was like a gentle breeze or wispy white clouds that decorated the blue sky of that imaginary summer day. And yes, everything in that scene was playing in slow-mo.

lodet_cjb

📸: lodet’s Facebook page

Calling is the debut single from Swedish singer-songwriter Joakim Björnberg, who goes by the name of lodet, which is actually taken from his daycare in Trollhättan, Sweden.  He spent years in Japan writing songs for pop artists but is now determined to bring his own brand of music to the world.

It was through Magnus Nilsson, the bassist of The Royal Concept, that I got to discover lodet.  It was in December 2018 when Nilsson promoted jul, a 6-track Christmas album that he, along with Björnberg and another The Royal Concept member Povel Olsson, had worked on.  I remember usually playing the album in the wee hours of the morning as I felt like it was the best time for me to listen to it.  Although it was a Christmas album, it was mostly composed of instrumental jazz tracks; some of which were upbeat, and others were less cheery.  It was a good thing that I decided to stick around as lodet would later on release more new music as a solo artist.  Aside from Calling, lodet also dropped the energetic Volvo, and my favorite among the three, Hagaduma.

Recently, he has released a slightly different version of his debut single.  In terms of sound, the new version is warmer and a tad faster.  More synths have been employed and the percussion has been highlighted.  The trumpets that can be heard towards the end of the original version have been removed, and some sort of reverb (?) have been added to the vocals.  If the old Calling is like a bright and clear summer day,  the new one is like a grainy summer sunset, (with an increase in humidity, too, for good measure. lol).  In terms of its lyrics, a couple of lines have been edited to reflect the changes in lodet’s personal life particularly about his unborn child.

The changes made on the old one have certainly given it some oomph and additional flavor.  I, however, lean towards the original a bit more.  I find it cleaner and more refreshing.  I love how clear the piano and the bass are there.  But both versions are good—throw me the new one and I’ll play it on repeat anytime.

lodet · Calling

lodet is scheduled to release his debut EP Many Days later this year, and I’m pretty excited about where he is going to take his music next.

 

Pre-COVID, Post Traumatic

Nothing Makes Sense Anymore
Ever since COVID-19 happened, nothing in the world has been the same. This disease has drastically altered our way of life in almost every aspect: many countries have been put on lockdowns, lives have been lost, people have been either forced to work from home or have been laid off, even simple activities such as doing the grocery or going to the mall have become completely different. During such a time when there’s so much uncertainty, grief, anxiety, and loss, sometimes the only way we can get our minds off all the negative things happening in the world right now even for a tiny bit is to turn to entertainment, but even that has changed: movie theaters and bars are closed, live television no longer allows a live audience, and concerts and music festivals are indefinitely postponed. As someone who enjoys music, I’m affected by the change in the latter.

Although I am no longer as active in attending gigs or concerts as I was before, the current situation of live music and the idea of not seeing a performance until God knows when still sadden me. Artists live streaming straight from their homes have become common these days, but as any music lover would attest to, nothing beats experiencing it live—you know, being in a sea of people, with all of you jumping, dancing, screaming, singing all at the same time. Even the tiring things of queuing and waiting for hours for the gates to open, or waiting until everyone has gone home so that you and your friends can hopefully a̶m̶b̶u̶s̶h̶  catch the artists and have some pictures with them taken are all part of that music experience. All of which are now things of the past.

Lately, my memory travels back to the last time I saw a concert. The world was still normal then of course, but some of the reasons why I went to the show are actually associated to a certain extent with the very things that are prevalent now: grief, loss, and uncertainty. That concert was Mike Shinoda’s 2019 Post Traumatic Tour. Such negative things aren’t typically related to concerts, but three years ago, Shinoda and the rest of his band mates in Linkin Park (LP) suffered the loss of their friend and vocalist, Chester Bennington, to suicide. But it wasn’t only Linkin Park and the people dearest to Bennington who experienced this grief and loss, their fans did, too.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.  I’m glad to see so many of you showed up.  One of the things that this tour has been all about is just showing up in person and saying ‘Thank you, guys, so much’ […] 2 years ago, I wasn’t feeling like I… I felt like I was just gonna stop music altogether.  So to be able to be up here, now, […] I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, ‘Thank you guys.  This is really an amazing feeling […]

About You
Like so many people who have been touched by Linkin Park’s music, the unexpected death of Bennington in 2017 affected me, and to be absolutely honest, that was actually one of the reasons why I attended Shinoda’s show. Apart from wanting to support him as a solo artist, I wanted to hear some of the songs that Bennington also used to sing. I thought that perhaps by hearing them again, it would, in a way, provide me some sort of comfort and make me feel part of a community that no one else among my friends could give since none of them had ever been into LP. Despite the hundreds of tributes given to Bennington around the world, including a handful here in the country, I was not able to attend even one. This might sound like an insult to Shinoda—and I apologize for it—but I felt that his show was the best way for me to experience that; after all, he was the only active link to Bennington as the other LP members weren’t touring anyway. Another reason why I decided to go despite not having anyone to go with (again) was because I wanted to do good on a promise of supporting LP. Obviously, things became gloomy and unclear for the band after Bennington’s death, and although I may no longer be a big fan of theirs, I told myself that I would support them once they regroup and return to the scene—a small thing to do for a band whose music had been there for me when things were once bleak and uncertain in my life as well. And in the unfortunate event that things could no longer work out for LP, I didn’t want to miss what possibly could be the last chance for me to hear their music live.

Prove You Wrong
So how was the show itself? Let me just reserve all my observations for another entry. Yes, I know it’s been eight months since his Post Traumatic Tour, but I’ve been trying to write about it since last year but doing so is like me trying to contain sand in my fist: I could gather some words, but most of them just slip right between my fingers. But if there’s something thing I can simply say about it, it’s this: the show just proved how brilliant and versatile an artist Shinoda is! His ability to stitch music the way he did and sing and play several instruments at the same time are clear evidence that he is not just “that rapper from Linkin Park.”

Make It Up as I Go
That concert might have been an emotional one, but in the end, it was also a night of gratitude and celebration of music and life. Shinoda was almost at the end of his Post Traumatic Tour at the time, but his whole tour was a testament to his resilience, hard work, and belief in new beginnings despite all the gloom and despair. And I think those are also things that we should hold on to at the moment as we face all this uncertainty, and I’m no longer simply talking about live music but life in general as well. Things are extremely tough right now, but these are the cards we’ve been dealt with; there is no other choice but to play them well. Things are going to be better—maybe not as soon as we’d like them to be, but they will. We have to believe that. We have to.

At the Drive-In: Live Music Amidst COVID-19

A photo of a musician standing on a stage in front of what seemed to be a carpark appeared on the website of Consequence of Sound  earlier this month.   Without reading the article, you might think that it was either merely staged for a photo shoot or a joke and that a The Hard Times kind of headline was just somewhere below it.  But the photo is real, and it isn’t meant for a satirical article either.  It was taken last month during the concert of Mads Langer, a Danish musician, who performed in Aarhus, Denmark at the world’s first drive-in concert.  The idea of a drive-in concert would have been a preposterous one even just a few months back.  But as countries entered and continue to live in a COVID-19 world, the idea suddenly isn’t that absurd after all.

A drive-in concert is exactly like its film counterpart: concert goers buy tickets to the show, drive to the venue, and enjoy everything from the confines of their vehicles… or at least try to. Because compared to a drive-in cinema, a drive-in concert has a critical ingredient that the former doesn’t have: the interaction between the performer and the audience, and the audience with their fellow concert goers.  Being in the middle of a sea of people—standing or sitting very close to them, being able to strike up conversations with friends or some random strangers, mosh, jump and dance, and of course, sing with them—is a magical component of a live music experience that a drive-in concert could never ever replicate.  Being one with a crowd creates that wonderful feeling of community; that even though people may not all know each other, for one night they gather and are bonded by the same kind of music they love.  Every scream, wave, clap, or eye contact builds up excitement and joy, which in turn feed the energy of the performer as well.  That energy is even fueled further when the performer literally reaches out to the audience members with a handshake, a hug, a caress; all of this physical contact adds to the thrill of a live concert experience, which a drive-in concert clearly misses.

This is not to say that there was absolutely no interaction between Langer and the audience. There was and it was done with the help of technology.  Langer, whose music was delivered to the people’s car stereos through an FM channel, got to chat with his audience through video calls.  There was also a point in the show when one of the audience members even came up on stage to dance, of course with social distancing still observed.  The concert goers were also able to show their appreciation for Langer’s performance by honking their horns or tapping their cars.  The whole event, which was an ingenious concept, remained lacking, however still.  The cars, which served as the audience’s main method of experiencing the show, was also the main obstacle in completely celebrating music.   Yes, live music could be heard, but the experience wasn’t complete.  Everything seemed distant, just as countless people in the world should be right now from each other.

DENMARK-HEALTH-VIRUS-CONCERT

📷: internewscast.com.au

While the whole event might seem strange and detached from my perspective, it’s probably a whole different story, however, to those who were present that day.  For them, perhaps, a special bond was made despite the distance and the metal barriers presented by their automobiles.  For them perhaps, despite being shielded in their vehicles and meters apart from everyone else, the experience had given them a stronger sense of oneness with their fellow human beings even for a little while that those viewing them from the outside could not easily feel.

Indeed, the state of live music now–just many of the things in the world today–is gloomy.  While it remains uncertain as to when things would return to the way they were before the pandemic, for now at least, it seems like being this far apart is the closest thing people can get to experiencing music live.