Happy In Bag

Friday, July 01, 2005

Bettie Serveert

Bettie Serveert never moved me.

The Dutch band always sounded fine and Carol van Dijk, the lead singer, is striking. Hipsters adored them, and their first three domestic releases were issued on Matador, usually a good barometer of quality.

Still, I never got it. The production didn’t feel right. I just wasn’t looking an edgier version of The Cardigans, or an overproduced Pretenders. Bettie Serveert is now touring behind, Attagirl, a January ‘05 release on Minty Fresh. And I don’t like it, either.

You can’t accuse them of being lazy. The band is doing retail in-stores in markets adjacent to their tour dates. So they stopped at Kief’s in Lawrence, KS, June 30, before their Kansas City date at the Grand Emporium later that evening. As you can see from the photo, the store’s shotgun-layout doesn’t lend itself to in-stores. Even if you’re standing four people back, your view is obstructed.

About two dozen fans heard an entirely different version of Bettie Serveert play at Kief’s. Van Dijk and a guitarist did the solo acoustic thing, and the sounds they made were beautiful and affecting. Van Dijk voice is spectacularly nuanced and filled with emotional resonance, a virtue the band’s recordings fail to capture.

I cheer for Attagirl to succeed for Bettie Serveert. If they’re disappointed in the fruits of their hard work, however, a backup plan is obvious. They should retool as a sophisticated easy listening band, along the lines of The Kings of Convenience and the Trashcan Sinatras. Making soft rock for the lounge crowd is a new cottage industry. Bettie Serveert could own that market.


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