Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Erich von Kneip at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 9/12/08

This guy pretty much defines LA noir. Erich von Kneip’s songs are dark, jazzy, mostly in minor keys. He sings over them with a bit of a languid, bluesy drawl, but it’s not an affectation: this is a stylized genre. Walking to the train afterward, the running joke was what he might want to name his band: Philip and the Marlowes? The Chandlers? The Big Sleep? There is a Big Sleep, one of the crew reminded. They’re an instrumental noise band from Brooklyn.


But von Kneip isn’t so easily pigeonholed. He opened with what will probably become his signature song, Love Is Sinister, which pretty much says it all. Backed by a violinist whose eerie washes of sound were absolutely spot-on and propelled by an excellent upright bassist, he kept the back room at Pete’s riveted for the entirety of his roughly 40-minute set: had he played for twice as long, nobody would have complained.


The next song of the set, Funeral for a Romance picked up the pace a bit. After that, the trio did a faster number about a femme fatale: “You’ll never live to see the morning…she’s gonna make a man out of you,” von Kneip taunted, the violin adding a gypsy feel. She sang beautiful harmonies on the next song, a slower tune. Another midtempo, gypsy-flavored number possibly titled We’re Not Going Home began with screechy horror-movie string work and was deliciously suspenseful, with an unexpected, monster crescendo after the next-to-last chorus. They may not have been going home, but where to? The answer wasn’t clear, making it all the more ominous.


Before the show the bassist had been practicing a sinewy, bluesy descendoing progression that he put to good use in a catchy pop hit maybe called Lovely Secrets, possibly a remnant from a former incarnation as a singer/songwriter before von Kneip went into the shadows for good and found his true calling. The trio closed with a gorgeously soulful cover of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies, winding up the show on a surprisingly optimistic note. James Apollo was next on the bill, a terrific segue with his eerie southwestern gothic rock, but unfortunately the night was running an hour behind and there were drunk people to take care of. However, you can read about Apollo’s excellent show at Banjo Jim’s last year here.

September 15, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews


  1. You got it all right in your review. Seeing Erich is a treat that you’ll remember long after.

    Comment by Gerry Gomez | September 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. Wow! I regret that it’s been four years since I had the opportunity to read this unbelievably flattering review! Thank you do much! I was the violinist/ back-up vocalist for that amazing night. The full Erich Von Kneip band actually included a drummer, vibraphone player, and another violinist. But we are the only three who could schedule that trip to Brooklyn, and I still look back on it as a positively magical 4 days! That show at Pete’s candy store was surreal, and our best, I think. Since then, Erich took time out for starting a family, and we haven’t played recently. On to other things….as life rolls along in all its mysteries. But that night was magi for us, and I’m so glad it was for the audience as well.

    Comment by Erin Fitch | July 1, 2012 | Reply

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