Swedish lo-fi neo-psychedelic rockers Les Big Byrd crossed the Atlantic for their first coast-to-coast North American tour and played two shows in New York last week to promote the May EP releases of Stockholm Death Star and Liquid Sky.

Les Big Byrd was formed in Stockholm in 2011 by Joakim Ahlund (Caesars, Teddybears) and Frans Johansson (Fireside) but couldn’t have become whole without the final additions of drummer Nino Keller and keyboardist Martin Ehrencrona. The band put itself on the map with their 2014 debut album They Worshipped Cats, an eerie compilation spiced with ominous pitfalls and 80s arcade-era electronica.

On the recordings, their sound is clear and fluid with muted vocals and respectable reverb. The Byrds recreate vintage tech sounds and explore the evolution of society’s incessant interaction and interdependence on technology, themes that are evident both sonically and lyrically. “The midnight sun is setting on the TV screen. And the satellites keep sending out the silent beams. And there’s a war raging in the streets,” they voice on “War in the Streets.”

But on stage, the band’s vintage soundscape is larger than life. Mouths swarm the mic, fingertips fly against guitar necks, frets are abandoned and chords are ignored, strings are bent and abused, amps screech and hit all the right ear-piercers for true techie trance. Playing almost their entire backlog from EPs and They Worshipped Cats, Les Big Byrd fueled a frenzy in the crowd at Cake Shop. Highlights from the show include “Stockholm Death Star,” wordless and trim lo-fi surf, “Anywhere But Here,” an energetic psych trip, and “Roadhouse Blues,” a cerebral sonic exploration.


Article: Heather McAdams


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