Movits! at Bowery Ballroom

Even though they sing in Swedish, Movits! brought a sizable crowd out to Bowery Ballroom on a Sunday night. Only a fraction of this crowd spoke Swedish. Part of this is due to the Colbert bump they received by performing on The Colbert Report. But the main reason is likely that Movits plays music that is unafraid to be fun and is full of gleeful enthusiasm that transcends language.
At least, that is the case for me. More than any other artist currently working, Movits makes the kind of music that I want to make. It’s got a unique voice, it’s fun, it’s happy, it’s danceable and it features saxophone. Upright bass is an extra plus. Of course, I probably wouldn’t go with lyrics in Swedish. Aside from some brands (Ikea, Volvo) and proper names (hockey player names and characters from Steig Larsson’s novels), I don’t know a word of Swedish. Yet I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the show. Perhaps that’s a result of a lack of comprehension and perhaps the words are very serious and somber in contrast to the fun and danceable music.
But whatever the lyrical content may be, Movits did get a New York crowd dancing by the end of the show, which is no small feat in and of itself. They play an interesting mix of live and sampled, with most percussion coming via DJ (although a few numbers did feature acoustic guitar or live drum), but with live upright bass and saxophone.
I wasn’t in the best mood by the time the show started, because of the long wait between me getting to Bowery and the show starting. The show was billed as Movits playing at 9 with doors opening at 8. Even though Bowery Ballroom set times are often scheduled for 30 minutes later than advertised (but not always), no one hit the stage until 9:45. And then it was unannounced bonus extra opener Zacke, a Swedish rapper (a frequent collaborator with Movits!)
But once Movits took the stage, it was all energy, fun and joy, a wonderful contrast to how Americans often think of Sweden.