Farmers Market – review of their release concert for ‘Slav To The Rhythm’

After some weeks full of the darkest, blackest and loudest of metal and its subgenres, this concert brings a break from that and offers few hours of lovely melodies rooted anywhere from jazz to Balkan or the Jewish klezmer. And that includes the support bands, not only the main act of the evening, Farmers Market, who celebrate 20 or 21 years of activity (they were not really sure on that). For this celebration they held a special concert at Rockefeller, Oslo on April 19th.

The evening was opened by the duo Sudan Dudan and their Norwegian folk inspired songs, supported by a guitar, a Jew’s harp or a zither. Really cozy music, lovely voices from the two singers and a very relaxing start that took the audience on a mini journey through Norwegian folk music and told the stories from the band’s latest release, ‘Kari og Ola’.

The feeling of relaxation was quickly smashed by the following support band, Goylem Space Klezmer. They started in silence, with some words (probably the band’s name translated in many languages?) projected on the backdrop, but soon the silence was broken by the kind of music that somehow dictates your legs and body to start moving. After the concert I found out that they actually describe their style as Space klezmer and I cannot find a better description for the insane mix of happy fast dancing rhythms. Rhythms that reminded me of some childhood movies and their soundtrack, whether they were Polish, Czech, Serbian, Romanian or anywhere in that region. The band consisted of a violin player, a contrabass player (who chose to start the concert with a big mask on his face, then take it off and wear a big pair of glasses), a drummer, a clarinet player and the ‘main voice’ who also played accordion and keyboards, since I don’t recall too much voice usage in their dance songs. We were informed in between melodies where they might come from and what inspired them, but that info was easily forgotten once you got captivated by the good vibes from the stage and tried to watch the funny projections at the same time.

Before Farmers Market took the stage, a bunch of people moved all over the stage to set up cables, chairs, computers, pedals, mic and whatnots. It seemed like there’d be some guests, and to the crowd’s excitement, the surprises were quite plenty. A four piece a capella choir from Bulgaria, two girls performing French Horns and a four piece violin formation. So you can imagine that eventually the stage seemed rather crowded, but it made the concert experience pretty special. I found it particularly touching when the silence installed as the four voices from the Bulgarian women would perform their traditional melodies.

What I love with Farmer’s market concerts is that they do manage to show you how music is how feelings sound like. The guys in the band love to play music. They probably rehearsed thousands of times, yet they still manage to look with interest whenever one of them has an important solo and they all seem to enjoy the good moments and show appreciation through their expressions.

Like I said, this was the release concert for the band’s album ‘Slav To The Rhythm’. I had no idea what the album is about and maybe I expected ‘the same old’ sound, to put it like this. While there still were plenty of Balkan and gypsy-music bits in the music, the overall feeling was of much more seriousness and uniformity, and a bit of a different era than on the other albums. More groovy jazz touches and a different orchestral feeling – well, take into account the mini orchestra they brought on stage with violins and French horns. The trumpets did some amazing solos, both ‘Balkan-style’ but also more prog or maybe jazzy at times.It was really nice how you head had to move almost like at a tennis game, in order to follow each individual performance as they would make their way in and out of the song. And if I mentioned a ‘tennis game’, the chair umpire was Stian Carstensen who alternated between sitting down with his accordion and standing up to jam on his guitar, but never forgetting to nod in approval and enjoy the music himself.

Unfortunately, a headache was so fond of the evening’s music that it probably called some friends, forcing me to leave before the concert ended. And I am sure I missed some great fun on stage and maybe even more guests that I already saw, but I hope to recover a bit of what I missed by listening to the ‘Slav To The Rhythm’ album and go see them live with another occasion.

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