Last Night: The Tallest Man on Earth and The Nurses at The Independent

Categories: Last Night
Joseph Schell
The Tallest Man on Earth and The Nurses
The Independent
May 09, 2010

Better than: Pie. But not momma's homemade pie. Nothing beats that.

Here are a few things fans who came to The Independent learned about The Tallest Man on Earth:

- He knows how to make music. From the moment he hopped on stage, picked up his guitar, and began picking away, The Tallest Man on Earth kept his tunes as dynamic and intricate on stage as they are in studio. Although the volume of his instrument swung from rough and loud to sweet and soft, the Dylan-scratch in his voice rang out with a similarly gravelly charm for every song. He played with a bold energy, even after the music stopped abruptly at the very start of the show, when he overstepped the length of his guitar cord.

- He knows how to work a sold-out crowd. Whether it was swooning ladies, or swooning dudes, everyone seemed to want a piece of The Tallest Man last night. He indulged the ogling crowd by repeatedly thanking them for coming, and taking a humble approach to his Tallest Man status. "I want to play a love song for you guys," he told the crowd. "It's not a pretty one, but thanks for listening."

Joseph Schell
- He knows how work a stage. One minute he would be tiptoeing to the edge of the stage, crouching low and clutching his acoustic like a life preserver, and the next he would be singing with eyes half closed at the mic. He'd also stomp in circles before falling back in a chair, picking his melodies with impeccable precision all the while.

- He loves his mother. Otherwise he wouldn't have covered two Paul Simon songs in honor of her for Mother's Day.

Joseph Schell
- He likes black skinny jeans. As did three quarters of last night's crowd. 

- He's a Swede. This means (according to him) that he apologizes for everything, including what he considered to be an excessive amount of tuning. And then when an audience member shouted, "Stop apologizing - we love you!" he did what came naturally: he apologized.

- Physically speaking, he's not actually that tall. But his lyrics - mainly meandering stories often involving birds and meadows and cowboys - suggest he's into metaphors. So ... ponder away.

- His influences, he admitted, include Sade: "I'm not trying to be funny - I love Sade. She got me through the 90s," he said.

Joseph Schell
Although he speaks with a slight Swedish lilt and has occasional references to his Nordic roots in his songs, Tallest Man (aka Kristian Mattson) did not sing in Swedish, even when one fan requested it. A little research suggests that he lends his vocals to another Sweden-based group called The Montezumas

Also, he has toured with the likes of folkish singer songwriters John Vanderslice and Bon Iver. These pairing make a little more sense than the band who opened up for him last night, a Portland-based, heavily mustachioed trio called The Nurses. The Nurses' psych-leaning indie pop rode too much on the coattails of groups like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective to carve out a unique niche in the scene.

Critic's Notebook

Overheard in the crowd: (Re: Mattson) "He's such a rock star. He's like ... a white Michael Jackson."

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