all words: Ross Bonaime, all photos: Katherine Gaines
To be honest, Shout Out Louds could have come on stage Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club and without warning, farted the greatest hits of Sisqo into a microphone, and I would have still probably loved it. That’s not because it would be an awesome, unbelievable sight, but because that’s how badly I’ve wanted to see Shout Out Louds.
Their first album Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, was for me that perfect collection of songs that fully described how I felt in my late teens. It nails that feeling of unrequited love, being sick of your hometown and general malaise about your life, while also creating some of the catchiest, upbeat and ridiculously fun pop songs to ever come out of Sweden. And yes, I’m including Robyn and ABBA in that.
HHGG is one of the albums I listened to most in my teenage years and early 20s, even listening to it nonstop on a road trip roundtrip from Virginia to Myrtle Beach (second place only to listening to Guster’s Lost and Gone Forever from Virginia to North Dakota. And back. A record likely to never be beat.)
So I had wanted to see Shout Out Louds for about a decade, since they rarely tour America unfortunately, and while their last three albums haven’t done it for me as much as their first, I’m now definitely a fan of at least most of their catalogue after seeing how great they are with these songs live.
Opening for Shout Out Louds was Haerts, who I had heard on occasion, but unfortunately haven’t released their debut album yet. This was the first stop of the tour for both Haerts and Shout Out Louds, and unfortunately there were a few sound problems throughout the set, but all in all Haerts have a great sort of 80s sound to them, not because most of their set is synth-heavy but because lead singer Nini Fabi has a very distinct voice that sounds directly plucked from that decade.
Haerts will be coming back to town for Sweetlife this Saturday and I’d definitely say stop by the Treehouse stage if you’re going to be there, since they sound pretty great live. And you can miss a few minutes of Gary Clark Jr. and I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Finally Shout Out Louds came out, with five crazy large snake light looking things illuminating each of the members and a banner behind them similar to a night sky with the band’s name. I had listened to their last two albums Work and Optica, and found them to be much less upbeat than their first two albums HHGG and Our Ill Wills, but based on their performance of them, I was way off. “Sugar,” “Walking In your Footsteps” and “Falls Hard” started off their set, really amping them up to a more fun pace than the albums had made them sound.
It was clear I wasn’t in the majority with this opinion, because the audience really picked up with the Our Ill Wills song “Normandie” and “Impossible.” Lead singer Adam Olenius said that when they went on their first US tour, it started out at the 9:30 Club, then led into “Impossible,” featuring each artist coming in one by one in a very effectively cool way.
By the time they played “The Comeback,” possibly their most popular song in the US, the crowd was already yelling that they were going to start a dance party, which they of course did. It was clear that with the older songs, especially from HHGG, that they had had enough time to play around with them and do some fun things with them. For example, with “Please Please Please,” they faded out and then came back strong to finish off loud and powerful. They would later also do it with “Hard Rain,” with Olenius standing on the drum set, and the entire band getting so quiet it was impossible to hear the song, until they built in almost a “Shout”-ish way.
SOL’s had very little in the way of banter, except for the occasional tidbit about their touring or to tell that they had gone to the Air & Space Museum earlier that day, which had clearly inspired their starlight backdrop.
After a great version of “Very Loud,” which included them mashing it up with The Clash’s “Train in Vain (Stand By Me),” which surprisingly worked incredibly well.
Their encore featured “Destroy” and “Walls,” before ending their night with the perfect title to end a set, “Tonight I Have to Leave It,” with Olenius jumping into the crowd, who had only increased their dancing intensity.
It might have taken my ten years to see Shout Out Louds, but holy crap am I glad I finally did. They need to tour more in America, because they are killer live, only making their songs sound much better than they ever have on their recordings. Here’s hoping I don’t have to wait another decade to see them again.