22 March 2007




oh man, that's how i feel about my life sometimes...

day three was, like, perfect. as far as concert-going goes, non-stop thrillz - bam bam bam from show to show. so i'm going to dispense with the narrative flow.

Rjd2 [at p4k party, emo's]
in case you haven't heard, Rjd2 is no longer a dj or an electronic-producer dude. Rjd2 is now a prog-funk hard rock band. at least, that's what it seemed from this set, which included full-on band renditions of "since we last spoke," "exotic talk" and maybe a few others from swls, along with new material with a similar energy (but more singing.) some deadringer selections too ("horror" and "ghostwriter") but these required rj to get back behind the sampler to trigger the vocals. it makes some sense - rather than make sample-based music that sounds like a rock band, why not just have a rock band? the answer is that rock bands are often boring. this band wasn't - they're funky and hard-rocking and pretty technically great (at least the drummer) - but i wonder if i might have felt differently if i wasn't familiar with the more unusually-flavored original versions of their jams. either way, fun to rock out with them that afternoon

menomena [ditto]
they're not much more than a normal-ish indie rock band, but they are a very nice indie rock band, and i'm very happy to have seen them in action. hard to say what exactly it is about them, but their music stands out as being enjoyable without being identifiably all that different from any number of other (fine, but unexceptional) indie bands. another very cool drummer, with a pretty unique steez (more part-oriented than groove-oriented, but still groovy enough.)

girl talk [ditto]
i felt kinda bad - this crowd was not going to be whipped into a hedonistic dance frenzy like last time i saw him (or probably any other night-time club show he plays.) i did my best, but to be honest the set wasn't quite as inspiring as it could have been either. still, it's like impossible not to have a great time watching/listening to greg do his thing, and this was no exception. he played "c'mon 'n ride it" but didn't come down into the crowd to start an actual train until later on in the set. towards the end, he dropped his (underwhelming) "let's call it off" remix, and announced "peter bjorn and john are in the building!" - but how much cooler would it have been if they came out to do the vocals live?

i didn't take this picture, or the next one, but they were taken by somebody very close to me (the entire front two rows seemed to be photographers)
sorry, my camera died!

amy winehouse at the fort (fader/levi's party)
she was apologetic - she hadn't realized the venue would be so big, or she would have brought her full band (which somebody told me later was actually the dap-kings. pretty crazy, i wonder when/where they rehearsed. oh wait - whoa - apparently they were her band on the album too. why didn't i know that?) instead it was just her and a very suave-looking guitarist (duh, it was binky, in a silky purple shirt), doing laidback acoustic readings of her songs. which still fail to make much of an impression, except for "rehab" of course (but even that i don't think is that great. i'm kind of confused about why the album is getting such glowing press, even though it's cool that we may have a bona-fide [relatively-straight] soul hit on our hands in 2007.) still, the lady can sing. and hey how about that hair, and that makeup! and those tattoos! (
look here for a better shot of amy's left arm tattoos, which was actually taken from closer to my vantage point, just at a different show.) her style's pretty intense, but it's also pretty damn wtf, no?

they told sigrid that their sweatsuits are now extremely smelly

datarock [ditto]
hell yeah. actually, not too much to say, but they put on a great show. all the faves from the album, and even the ridiculous ones (like "night flight to uranus") came off very sharp. some silly guys. after their set, "(i've had) the time of my life" came on the speakers, and they made us all sing it into the microphones.

nellie mckay [at exodus]
there are some good pictures from this set here. no way i would have been able to take anything like that - i barely even got to see what she was wearing (hey, nice shirt.) it's no great mystery why there was a lot of talking going on during this set: nobody could see her! the stage is very low at this venue, and she was sitting down, at an upright piano. before the set started, matthew and i were standing in the middle of the crowd, chatting with a chatty floridian ex-new yorker about the xpn world cafe, the three-penny opera, why pretty little head is nellie's coming-out album, and the all-important question of which is your favorite pipette ["if she were a man," she said, it would definitely be the "classic ice blonde" (that's gwenno i think) and she was mystified about why her husband and their drooling male friends all preferred rose (as do i)].

but shortly after nellie started playing, we moved upstairs to the way back so at least we could actually see her. everybody else was still out of luck though - "we can't see you!" somebody shouted after the first few songs. "oh, well...i can't see you either," she responded. "maybe it's better that way, for both of us!" i'm not sure why i never realized before that she sounds (her speaking voice anyway) exactly like judy garland. though what she says is a lot brattier. anyway. so, she did "cupcake" and "lazy river" and a couple others from the new one (but not "columbia is bleeding," which i'd say is probably the highlight, nor "beecharmer" of course.) also "suitcase song" (yaay!) and "david." (i did shout out "i want to get married!", but if she heard me she probably didn't take me seriously.)

best part was the closing medley of "doggies and kitties": jumping back and forth among "yodel" (is that right?), "the dog song," "pounce," and "ding dong," in a way that really showed off her piano expertise and smart little theory-head, as she modulated around with little impromptu interludes and laughed at herself for messing up the words (i forget what the typically self-deprecating line was that she fumbled and then added "apparently" as an aside.)

still a goof; still a lovable goof. (was she really using sheet music?)


marit larsen

marit larsen


[at, um, uncle flirty's]


okay, well, i'm still waiting on nan to send me the photos of marit that i took with her camera, but i guess i'll go ahead and write about the experience. this is the only halfway decent photo from that show that i can find online - but i have better ones, just be patient. thanks nan! (videos coming soon too.)

well i got to the venue when foxy finn irina bjorklund was still playing - was very glad to catch her last four or so songs. she and her band played rootsy cosmopolitan folk, mostly in english, and a couple of chanson-style numbers in french. she has a very appealing sort of casual sophistication -
wearing an antique-looking lightweight yellow dress, sitting down to perform (she pulled out her saw for the last number) like she was playing on a back porch somewhere, with one shoe on and one bare foot (hmm, looks like that's a trademark/habit of hers) - and of course the french numbers only added to her sultriness.

and then it was time for marit's set. actually it took a while for her to go on, as there were some technical problems - the doorlady later told me that a fuse had blown in the [electric] piano, which was a recurring problem at that venue because of the demands of converting the voltage for the european equipment. meanwhile marit was in the corner by the stage, pacing and occasionally stretching...

now, my excitement for seeing her had been mo
unting throughout the week (since tuesday night when i found out she would be appearing), and especially after the previous night with the other marit, i was hoping for a similar experience (friendly post-set interaction, free cd? - wasn't really expecting on another dance contest and t-shirt), except better because i actually know and love miss larsen's music and would therefore have more to say to her.

but it wasn't until the moment i saw her in person that i fell in love with marit larsen. in <3. is gorgeous - not necessarily in a dramatic, striking way (like striking you over the head), but like a perfectly sweet, fresh-faced twenty-two-year old girl you might meet where you can't quite believe how delicate and soft and exquisite her features are. and tiny too, so delicate she would almost seem fragile if there wasn't so much sparkle in her smile and life in her rosy cheeks. (you'd never call her a porcelain doll - she'd just roll her eyes and laugh - but it would be a warm, easy laugh, wrinkling her little freckled nose.) it's cliche but the photos just don't do her justice, certainly not the wavy-haired, styled-up press photos, which tend to subdue her brightness (and her smile) in trying to present a more mature, moodier marit. maybe her soft, glowing vibrancy can't be captured in a moment's stillness, but i'm hoping my attempts will fare somewhat better, being from that shining night - with her simple, girlish dusky-purple dress; gold barrettes holding back her lengthy, straighter hair and looking somehow fairy-like - and taken through my smitten eyes.

well. i just bounced around quietly, enjoying my giddiness, while i waited for nan to arrive and the set to start (which happened in that order.) finally the band took the stage - seven pieces including cello, banjo, several guitars and keys - there was a fair amount of swapping around throughout the set - and launched into "only a fool." at this point it's harder to recall to mind than the impression she made visually and physically, but her musical performance (and the band's) was simply outstanding as well. truly - i was of course expecting to be excited by it, but i think that even anyone unfamiliar with her music would have been impressed. it's no surprise that she's a very professional performer (she's a ten-year veteran after all), but it was especially touching to see how much fun she was clearly having on stage. she displayed ample chops on guitar, mandolin, piano, and harmonica, and sang beautifully, reinvesting familiar lyrics with heartfelt meaning. there was one fabulous new song (apparently called "steal my heart" - the line that sticks in my memory is "if you're going to break my heart, break it like you mean it.") otherwise she hit most of the highlights from the album, including of course "come closer" and the moving "solid ground" (on piano.) no airing of "under the surface," and no "don't say you love me" as i was hoping - it was a short set - but, after a spirited run through "don't save me," she closed with possibly the most exciting cover she could have chosen; "my boyfriend's back." with a spot-on, energetic folk-rock rearrangement - retaining the hand-clap rhythm but fleshing out the stop-starts with a rootsy gusto.

meanwhile i was dancing my fluttery little heart out, at least to any song for which it was the slightest bit appropriate, and mouthing/singing along with many of the words. there was a good eight or ten feet between the edge of the stage and the bulk of the crowd, and while it would have been completely awkward to stay very close to the front with all of that distance, i hovered in the forward portion of that gap, sometimes hugging the speakers along the right side of the space. so, well, it would have been practically impossible for marit not to notice me, since she more or less had to look at and past me to see the rest of the crowd, but i definitely felt us making eye contact for much of the set - especially on "come closer" (it was all i could do not to take the titular instruction literally), which is sort of a perfect song for shy eye-contact flirting, shaking our heads at each other knowingly on the "will it keep you warm at night?...(i don't think so)" clincher-line. i mean, who knows - it was mostly beautiful self-delusion, of course - but i was having fun with myself, anyway, and marit certainly seemed to be having fun as well, and i imagine some piece of that came from seeing how gleeful her music was making me.

anyway, she played eight or so songs and that was it - the sizable audience applauded appreciatively and we few giddy fans in the front clapped and cheered, but it was hardly a crowd capable of demanding an encore. still, i think her set found a very welcome reception. i was sort of too busy being smitten to pay much attention to anybody else, but i did say hello to the two other people up front who had been singing along and being excited (and joining me for a bit of dancing, though not much.) they turned out to be true marit superfans - they'd met through the fan forum on her website, and they clearly knew all sorts of things about her and her band. they'd come extremely prepared - they had posters for her to sign, presents and letters to give her, and had in fact made contact with her before, so she'd known to expect them. thanks to them, i was able to go to her dressing room (well, it was just the pool room in the back of the bar, reserved for the bands), just by sort of tagging along as they were trying to get in to give her the presents.

it was more than a little bit awkward - i'd been feeling particularly awkward since i'd initially tried to give marit a hug after she got off stage and was going around shaking hands - ordinarily i would have asked first, but i was still caught up in the rapport we'd been developing in my head while she was presumably too busy focusing on her performance to notice. she accepted the hug, of course, but it was still a bit uncomfortable - what i hadn't accounted for is that she is a good deal shyer than she seemed on stage. she's friendly and certainly polite, and she smiles a lot, but she's definitely reserved. but i have to say it was exacerbated by the two superfans, who seemed like they'd be pretty socially awkward even in a completely comfortable situation - which this certainly was not - and i'm sure me popping and tagging along didn't help much either. (after all, they are internet message-board denizens, who aren't known for their social ease - at least one of them self-identified as obsessive, and they both made comments to the effect that it was very surreal experience since meeting marit had been a long-time dream of theirs.)

by the way, you can read their accounts of the evening's events on the maritlarsen.com forum:
scroll all the way to the bottom here for matt's ("Fanboy") indepth retelling; and here, scroll down past his blurry photos - that's him in the first five - for the same with sarah's ("SSrb1098") additional comments. for some reason they think my name is frank - look earlier in the thread for some of their initial gushing and first mention of me as "that guy jumping around in circles with things falling out of his pockets" (hey, it was only one thing - my camera.) i've registered on the board (as "Maritricious!") but i've not been able to bring myself to post yet.

so, anyway, we went back to the band room, and i mostly just stood there while matt and sarah alternately gushed and apologized for gushing too much. marit was certainly touched but also amused by the whole thing, saying that of course she didn't mind, that it just meant they liked her music a lot, which is the important thing to her. they gave her the presents - a lovely necklace, a stuffed texas longhorn (that makes noise), and wha twas apparently a scented candle (i only saw her smelling it, didn't see what it was) - and had her sign the posters. i didn't have anything to give her or take as a souvenir (i'd meant to snatch the setlist - which i usually don't care about - but i was distracted and sarah got it) but i did get a bit of (slightly more modulated) gushing in, and i also got to tell marit that "my boyfriend's back" is my karaoke song - and she said it's hers too! and that's why she insisted on having it in her set. so that was nice. it was all very nice.

i'll have more to say about marit later on
(her name's pronounced something like MAH-reet, by the way - though i didn't really realize that at the time and may or may not have said it incorrectly when i was talking to her.) i've been listening to her album a bunch in the past week (and i finally ordered an actual cd copy of it), and i have some new opinions to spout about it. but i'll hold off for now, because this has gone on plenty long enough.


what happened next? well, i went by stubb's BBQ to try to get in for BDB and GBQ, but they had stopped selling tickets (even though there was plenty of space inside.) i went by antone's to try to get in for antibalas and the dap-sharons - no luck there but i had a lovely time waiting for an hour or so on the cash line ("optimists line," as i'd taken to calling it) in the warm night air, soaking in the loveliness of what had just happened, and chatting with my linemates lucinda, a former philadelphian who insisted that i wasn't in texas, i was in austin, and [never told us her name], a piano grad student at nyu, about struggling-artist life. if i had had my wits together i would have realized i could make the most of the $20 i'd spent on the nellie ticket and go back there to catch peaches (probably could have gotten in too.) but i didn't, so i just wandered back to scandinavia (er, uncle flirty's) and watched some of who i thought were grand island but now think might have been reykjavik.

whatever it was didn't really pique my interest, so i continued to wander along sixth street (a continual enveloping performance in itself - closed to traffic for the duration of the festival and mobbed every night with all sorts of interesting characters), taking it all in. i turned down an unlikely street and caught the strains of what i thought was maybe just a small, informal hip-hop show, not an official part of the conference, until the mcs started chanting "it's the pack!" indeed it was - just kicking off their set at the beauty bar patio. it's a small venue, but there was still room for me if i wanted to pay $15.

i decided to just stand outside the tent and watch for a while from near the entrance, where i had a clear view of the stage. after a few numbers i wandered on, not really engaged, past a series of venues on 7th and then back to stubb's to sit for a few minutes and listen to a couple of the good bad and queen's lovely mellow numbers ("kingdom of doom" and i'm not sure what else.) then i headed back to the beauty bar, still in a bit of a daze, thinking i might be able to catch the pack closing their set with "vans" (the stuff that i'd heard had been disappointingly conventional-sounding compared to that whispered, bizarro mini-masterpiece of skeletal hyphy.) (hmm, this is kind of interesting - article about "vans" and product-placement censorship.)

no such luck - the pack had evidently just finished their set, but the federation were starting theirs (sort of surprising that these names weren't already taken, eh?), and this time i actually stood and watched, along with a san franciscan fellow with a captain's hat who showed up soon after. they were fun - hyphy's supposed to be about being hyper and getting stupid, and though their outfits and general performance style was more or less standard hip-hop, they did do some goofy dancing and arm gestures and so on. they finished up with three songs in a row that i knew from my hyphy-downloading binge a while back - the so-so "18 dummy" and "i wear my stunna glasses at night" (or whatever it's called), and the genre-defining (i assume) "hyphy," which is really pretty great. mostly it was just nice to see a performance in a different style from pretty much everything else i'd seen at the conference - although to really appreciate the show i should have been inside the tent where it seemed like there was some serious dancing going on.

actually they might have kept going after that, but i went back to meet matthew where we had parked our bikes twelve hours earlier. we recounted our divergent evenings (he'd seen the watson twins, andrew bird, perry farrell, badly drawn, and good bad) over goodflow oj at kerby lane, then biked the rest of the way home in the wide, wide empty streets.