By: Cole Christensen
They came like celebrities back to Bowling Green, delivered an unforgettable performance to a capacity coffee shop crowd, held a throng of BG locals following the show and likely turned this sleepy college town on to a world of music they didn’t know they liked. Following closely behind their debut at the Black Swamp Arts Festival little more than three weeks earlier…and only their second visit to North America…Little Cow has become something of a household name in Bowling Green and at Grounds For Thought.
I won’t spend time trying to break down their show song by song, mostly because I don’t know the names of many of the songs they played outside of their mega European hits “Cyber Boy” and “I’m In Love With Every Lady.” Instead, it is more advantageous to describe the mood they set. I’m not sure how many in the audience caught one of Little Cow’s three fantastic sets at the BSAF in September. Judging by the fan ware on many in the crowd that largely showed up early and stayed throughout, I would venture that many were somewhat familiar with what they were about to witness. But this was different then what they delivered on the Main Stage, or acoustically (probably the first time for them) on the Bank Stage.
What they got was nearly two hours of spellbinding, powerful music from a band that puts to shame the notion that just anyone can play music. After four weeks of nonstop touring through the US and Canada Little Cow have beat the jet-lag they brought with them initially and have perfected their tightness to a level that probably matches the comfort of practice sessions in Budapest. The show flowed with ease, propelling the audience through a tangle web of emotional ups and downs. People ask me to describe what Little Cow sounds like, something I cringe at feebly trying to do, but it really comes down to two things. Traditional Eastern European folk music melded with rock, ska and even hip-hop elements.
The result: a roller coaster taking listeners from the edges of Hungarian folk – via the stellar accordion and lead guitar overtones – to the cusp of what can only be describe as heavy metal, Little Cow style. I think there was something for fans of all musical genres last night, including the kids and adults who were probably a bit surprised by lead man Laszlo Kollar-Klemencz’s puppet show (ala his mega-popular animations “Little Yellow Cow” that is the origins of the band). He, and the entire band for that matter, commanded the crowd and offered insight into a style of music that may be a bit more prevalent overseas but is sorely underrepresented here. The theatrical element, the use of shifting rhythmic elements within one song, the ebb and flow of emotion from a lone accordion to a full-fledged musical onslaught of two strong percussionists and three or four equally strong and varied vocalist.
I think the vocal elements might have been the most appealing for new listeners. Nonsense words (in both English and Hungarian), percussive beat-boxing and meshing of multiple lyrics in different tones and timbres that crosses from the comedic to the dramatic. Good for some chuckles from the intrigued audience and effective and helping create texture in the show.
World economics of travel suggest that there is a chance that we won’t see Little Cow back in this area again, something that makes a performance like last night all the more important. However, I think they can count on a loyal following should they decide to venture back to the area at some point. And, I also think the great hospitality they have been shown while here by Grounds For Thought owner Kelly Wicks, the Performing Arts Committee at the festival and their new BG fans helps close the distance between Bowling Green and Budapest. Their new “home away from home” according to several band members before the show.