BOY at Bryant Lake Bowl, 3/18/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson
Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
Monday, March 18, 2013

BOY lead singer Valeska Steiner has a way of smiling that is completely her own. She bares her top row of glistening whites and turns up the corners of her mouth ever so slightly -- like fractions of a centimeter. It's a trademark, among many, that has carried her deceivingly unassuming German folk-pop act to a quick ascent. 

The trio's performance was undeniably under a microscope at the Bryant Lake Bowl's miniature, black box-like theater, but they rose to the occasion. The night, the first of a two-night stand in Minneapolis (the Cedar show is tonight), basked in a near-flawless glow -- blending warmth, humor, and devoted musicianship over the course of less than an hour.

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Slideshow: BOY at Bryant Lake Bowl, 3/18/13
BOY's Valeska Steiner: I'm glad we make music in English
Guitarist Deniz Erarslan sat at his station of pedals, guitars, and a kick tambourine first and set the stage with an ambient introduction to an unreleased track called "Into the Wild." The song began in earnest when Steiner and multi-instrumentalist Sonja Glass joined him, and the expression of devotion -- following someone out into the wilderness to live with animals isn't something you do for just anyone -- would set the tone for a night where Steiner's words remained at the forefront.

Photos by Tony Nelson
Though the players remained mostly still, the calculated developments within BOY's songs and breaks created movement. "Drive Darling" came after Glass briefly noted she was so glad the audience "found your way through the snow," which conjured the song's music video featuring the young female duo -- who come off as close confidantes -- eventually piling into deep drifts of snow. Plus, it was with this arrangement that Steiner explored her range, while showing a purity of voice not unlike the white stuff on the ground, especially with Glass quietly adding harmony.

Since BOY was fresh from seven South by Southwest performances, they were methodical and organized in the pacing of the evening, but also with the order of the songs. "Waitress" was an opportunity to show off an ability to improvise and rework their material, this relatable song about "counting the days 'til real life arrives" instead rode a Korg synth ably executed by Steiner. Perhaps they'll pack a banjo player, which augments the studio version, for their next U.S. visit.

A bit of an argument about whether Glass would tell a joke or not (she didn't) led into "Oh Boy," introduced as a song about "beautiful girls and the damage they do." And with this glee-filled moment recalling Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, Steiner began to show an onstage strength that will carry BOY into far-larger spaces than this one. She took up an acoustic guitar for the follow-up, "Boris," which had all of the vocal nuances of an Edie Brickell song, but her eyes displayed a bit of Taylor Swift's man-crushing power. Their three-part harmonies filled the room. 

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