Denmark is a country very rarely associated with American popular culture. Perhaps best known for being the home country of Hans Christian Andersen and the setting of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” you would never think that people would be proudly waving the Danish flag at a pop-soul concert in a city in California. Yet Danish pride flowed freely throughout The UC Theatre on Friday at the Lukas Graham concert.
Despite the singular name, Lukas Graham is not one person. The name comes from the lead vocalist’s full name, Lukas Graham Forchhammer, but Lukas Graham is a band consisting of Forchhammer, drummer Mark Falgren and bassist Magnus Larsson. Somewhere out there, Panic! at the Disco’s sole member Brendon Urie is quaking.
In true millennial, underground music fashion, Lukas Graham got its start by releasing music on Facebook in 2011, which quickly went viral in Denmark. Soon afterward, it released music that went five-times platinum in Denmark and toured throughout Europe. In 2013, the band signed with Warner Records and focused on breaking into the U.S. market. Two years later, it released the album Lukas Graham, containing the soon-to-be-hit single “7 Years,” which launched the band into worldwide fame. By 2016, Lukas Graham had hit the U.S. market and had hit it big, even earning three Grammy Award nominations that year.
It’s been almost four years since Lukas Graham’s megahit dominated the airwaves and music charts. Since then, the band released its third album, 3 (The Purple Album), and is currently on an international tour. Like with many bands that are best known for a single song, it was clear that the crowd at The UC Theatre was antsy for “7 Years,” with one man even yelling, “You were once seven years old” in the middle of one of Forchhammer’s chats. It’s an understandable but unfair heft to hold on the band, but Forchhammer nevertheless gamely replied that there was still plenty of time in the night to get to that — and thank goodness there was. Although most of the crowd members came for Lukas Graham’s acclaimed single, they were still treated to two hours of lyrically intimate music that had everyone realizing the band has much more to offer beyond the song it broke out with.
Lukas Graham may be the name of the band, but there is no doubt that Forchhammer is the face and brand. Each of the band’s songs was imbued with such personal emotion and story, unfolding like a journal entry. In between sets, Forchhammer would sip on his seemingly never-ending bottle of beer and talk to the crowd about his life and past. Forchhammer’s admiration of The UC Theatre was evident, as he gushed about the venue’s new acoustics and his last visit there three years ago, which gave the audience a personalized connection to him.
Finally, after psyching the crowd out and pretending that the show was over, Forchhammer delivered on his promise, performing an emotional rendition of “7 Years.” During the opening verse, Forchhammer stopped singing because of a technical difficulty, but the audience sang it back to him word-for-word and you could see the tears glistening in his eyes. There was palpable weight as Forchhammer sang because a lot has changed in the four years since the band released that song — Forchhammer is now a father himself, at age 31, and no longer has to wonder about what his life will be when he hits 30. The added nuance gave even more of an emotional send-off to the concert.
Like the new kid in school, Lukas Graham is still trying to define itself beyond first impressions. Even if you only remember the name from that one hit from 2015, watching Lukas Graham live in concert is a poignant experience in its own right — the band’s soulful songs are rich with poetic lyricism and thumping bass, making you literally feel the music in your heart. You go in for “7 Years” and come out excited to hear what else it’ll be creating in the next seven years.
Contact Julie Lim at [email protected].