I’ve waited a long , long time to re-join the Athens scene , so to speak. Not just as a musician myself, having made the grand exodus to London to live the dream like most of us in Athens have. So i decided to pave my way back with my journalists hat on, and , can I just say, it’s a blessing. It’s a gift from the Universe, because I was treated to one of the most magnetic performances I’ve seen in Athens to date. Efterklang will go down as one of the best bands to see live. Engaging, humble, wild, warm, they’re a community all of their own accord. They love audiences, and audiences love them. One can only attempt to do it justice, so I’ll just open with this disclaimer:
Music is meant to be heard live, and one can always tell the power of a band or artist when they perform. Efterklang thrive on performance like artists thirst for inspiration: it’s a need, and a way of life. So on Saturday the 30th of April,the audience at one of the best kept secrets of Athens, Temple Bar were treated to a night of Magic, courtesy of up and coming Music and Record Label United We Fly.
I made it just in time to see the opening act ( sadly missing Swedish -Greek outfit Plasi), Athens collective No Clear Mind. A talented band who blend rock, indie, and a hint of post-wave Americana swirled in an ambient mist of psychedelia. Humble yet skillful musicians, they swiftly changed form instrument to instrument delighting the audience with their earnst ballads and woeful vocals. It’s obvious that these musicians command total creative control and experimentation, and it comes as no surprise that they echoe most of the underground rock and indie English – speaking scene in Athens. One would assume that there’s barely any room for English- speaking musicians in Athens, but I assure you, this city is bursting with talent; all you need to do is dig a little deeper to uncover the gems it has to offer. The band played a full set, shyly announcing at the end their gracious acknowledgement at the opening act. One thing I always marvel at : audiences should always appreciate the support act as much as the headliner: for the latter has always started as the former. A wonderful, engaging set of music from these lads!
I made my way to the cladly lit upstairs level, and was treated to the most epic view and sound of a band who clearly are in love with music. As part of their tour, which began in October 2021, Efterklang returned to Athens for a long-awaited appearance at Temple would focus on their latest album, “Windflowers”. For more than 20 years, Efterklang have pushed the boundaries of experimental, electronic and emotional chamber pop. Tonight , their sound exemplified to sheer perfection the very definition of genre bending. The three friends, Danes Mads Brauer, Rasmus Stolberg and Casper Clausen joined by guests the sensational Espi Chicoque and pianist /clarinet player Simon Toldam took the audience on a wild journey for dance – infused electronica jazz to pop-experimental harmonies that seemed be so perfectly executed I wondered if I was actually listening to their record in the same room. Their temperamental melodies were only exuded with masterful showmanship of Casper Clausen, who literally wooed the audience in with his inimitable swagger, joy and pureness of a performer relishing in his childlike demeanor but with the kind of musicality that comes with years of experience. Clausen made sure to connect with the audience as honestly as possible, at times with a simple ‘ Hello Athens, it’s good to be back ‘ and later in the evening followed it by what would seen become my most favourite live performance experience. fuelled by a talented drummer Epsi who quite literally blew my mind away as a vocalist as well, pianist Toldam holding the fort with his masterful jazz chops, and Stolberg and Vraeuer completely aware of the magic they were orchestrating , each song felt like a prelude to the band’s own search for something deeper than an artistic identity. It became evident in ‘ Sedna’ and later the stripped back ‘ Hold me close when you can’. ‘Cutting Ice to Snow’ was as moving as it was earth shattering, and if you watched closely you could catch a glimpse of the masterful Dutch collective catching wind of how much they needed to play , after an overtly strange 2 years this industry has undergone. ‘ Living Other Lives’ was performed and felt like the anthem we didn’t know we needed : a call to all who were led astray; a kind of spiritual calling of sorts to reassure that not all those who wander are lost. What followed next left me in tears: within moments Clausen descended from the stage and made his way to the bar, casually singing to ‘Modern Drift’. Perching on the barstand in a totally comfortable Yogi position ( and why not),he smiled directly as he sung, and when he was done he swiftly turned to the audience and asked them to sit with him on the floow, whilst he serenaded everyone to the majestic timbres of his emotionally charged voice with “Aabent Saar”. Everyone was held in that moment, together as a community, and certainly the intention of the band themselves. Just like that , the tempo picked up again mid- song , and the band gleefully danced on stage to the last two numbers, leaving the audience dancing in a swirl of frenetic energy you could have easily met the love of your life in that moment. To put it in the band’s own words their wish is ” not to play to people , but to perform and make music with the people “.
An evening that will stay with me , and I’m sure everyone who attended , for quite some time. If the shows of United We Fly are anything to go by, this would be one of the most promising events yet.