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Fans fall for Leif Vollebekk

by The Concordian January 24, 2012
Fans fall for Leif Vollebekk
(Full disclosure: I went to the same artsy high school as Leif Vollebekk. Though he had graduated by the time I arrived, I still grew up hearing his name as one of the admittedly few alumni who actually pursued their art instead of settling down to a life of paper pushing or commune living out West.)
Biased or not, fans came out in droves for Vollebekk’s performance, something I quickly realized as I found myself waiting outside in the January cold at the end of a long line of people trying to get into the venue. By the time I got inside, Vollebekk was already on stage strumming the first notes of the night.

Backed by a double bass and a drummer, Vollebekk blew through a short nine-song set from his debut album Inland; a record of love and loss, sung in his characteristically soulful voice. Forming a semi-circle around the stage, the packed audience of women, boyfriends and glasses-wearing intellectual types watched in rapt attention, shushing anyone who dared make a sound.

An ‘artiste’ through and through, Vollebekk approached every song with an intense fervour, grimacing through his words and swaying to the melody. As the audience watched him, it became clear that Vollebekk’s appeal lies in his representing an approachable Bob Dylan. Though he may sometimes sway dangerously close to romantic Chris Martin-esque territory, Vollebekk is a storyteller, one who you can relate to.

His music is accessible, but not corny, making him a musician that intellectuals, music snobs and mothers can appreciate. It is this blend of sentimentality and authenticity that saves him from John Meyer or Joshua Radin comparisons. For though they may all share an affinity for romantic escapades, Vollebekk somehow retains an edge in both his music and lyrics that keeps him acceptably cool.

And so, even with my hard journalistic exterior, by the end of the set as he readied a violin loop for his final song, I found myself imagining him in the hallways of my high school, instrument in hand, a part of the sophisticated music crowd. For those few seconds I, like everyone else, thought I knew him. Safe to say, I fell hard. Damn it.

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