Dinner

Central Presbyterian Church, Austin TX, March 21

DinnerCentral Presbyterian Church, Austin TX, March 21
Photo: Ellie Pritts
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"My dear friends, Austin, I'm here tonight to play you some music. Before I do, I want to make a little warm-up with you."
 
And with that, Danish producer and singer Anders Rhedin started putting his arms in the air, leading the crowd through an odd aerobics display, complete with deadpan instructions, as his song "Going Out" started playing behind him. He seamlessly transitioned from his hip swivelling and jerky arm movements into the song, doing everything involved in jumping jacks except actually jumping while staring straight forward, seriously, into nothing the whole time.

There's an arty, Devo-esque feeling about Dinner's music, which mines new wave influences as he croons over pre-recorded tracks in his deep baritone. He moves like David Byrne onstage, clearly putting the entirety of his effort into the show, if not his entire self; his emotionless face is a central part of his performance, as his wry, often humorous lyrics turn mundane occurrences in existential contemplations. "Do you feel like going out?" his opening song implored, before admitting that, "Sometimes you get lonely." His next song, he said, was "about waking up next to somebody in Argentina."

Rhedin brought out wacky dance move after wacky dance move, but never with anything but a perfectly straight face, interjecting hilarious quips into his own lyrics. When he sang that "Something's going to turn me on" on a new song, he asserted, in his deep speaking voice, that "When I came to Austin I thought, 'Somebody might turn me on.'" When the song ended with a long, droning outro, he stared wistfully out at the crowd for just long enough that it was uncomfortable, but then reined it in with perfect timing.

His set was composed almost entirely of new songs, as he's preparing an LP for Captured Tracks to follow his past crop of EPs, and he revelled in them, at one point prancing down the church aisle, writhing on the ground and standing on a pew.

"Thank you for being here," he said at the show's end. "Thank you for clapping your hands."
 
It was an odd, compelling performance that made new or bigger fans of everybody in the Central Presbyterian Church, but while I want to hope that Dinner will blow up, there's a good chance he won't; he's too damn weird, and that's central to why he's such a captivating figure.

The fact that he didn't play his stunning "Say What You Want (Love is Death)" was surprising and disappointing, but that the show was still incredible is telling; Dinner is, simply, a great performer.


 
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