July 25, 2005


Saturday was a very concerty day. First I went to Summerstage in Central Park with the main goal of seeing Jane Siberry play; I was also interested in Martha Wainwright and Betty...except that I had heard wrong and the middle act was Tracy Bonham, not Martha Wainwright. Since I didn't know either one very well at all other than having heard that they were pretty good, this didn't make much difference to me. And in the end, Tracy Bonham gave my favorite performance of the three acts.

Jane Siberry, well, you know, I love Jane Siberry, and love the way her songs fill me with a sensation of perfect longing -- but even though her extra-chatty onstage persona in charming in an isn't-she-adorably-eccentric way, I really want her to, you know, stop talking and actually sing a song at some point. (I also wouldn't have minded some more uptempo numbers, but Jane's never exactly been the rocking out type.) Betty was afflicted by the same problem, although in the form of the three singers having a tendency toward long jokey intros and too much banter. You know what I mean, right? They interact with the audience in that chatty, superficially-subversive-but-essentially-wholesome way that only queer-friendly folk-rock bands can. (Their songs really are ungodly catchy, though. I bought their Christmas CD, since I need new fodder for my holiday mix CD series.)

So even though all three acts played for the same amount of time, it felt like Tracy's set was longer because she just played more. She got on with it! And she rocked, especially on an awesome whirling-dervish-friendly violin-and-hand-drum rendition of Kelis's "Milkshake". I may have a new rock star crush.

After the concert, I had just enough to time to get to Park Slope and grab a couple of pizza slices before seeing Brian Dewan play at Barbes. John Keen opened with a ragtime piano set (really quite good), and then Brian followed up with his usual array of accordion, zither, and autoharp songs. In addition to various and sundry favorites old and recent ("Loathsome Idols", a cover of "Jimmy Carter Says Yes", "Sick Day"), he performed a few numbers entirely new to me, closing the show with "Brain Surgery Without Anesthesia" -- an audio-collage-cum-performance-piece depicting the thought processes of a patient who is having his brain poked and having random memories stimulated -- and a barbershop trio performance of a Beatles song. (John Keen and Brian's cousin Leon Dewan were the other two in the trio.) The song? "Revolution #9". Brilliant.

(Read about Brian and Leon's homemade electronic instruments here. Then make your hollow existence complete by buying Brian Dewan's CDs Tells the Story and The Operating Theater.)

Posted by Francis at 02:00 PM

Barbes is an awesome place to see the music people ply their trades. Next time there is a band you want to see there, drop me a line. I just took James & Tate there to see Ethan Lipton. You should see Ethan Lipton. Everyone should see Ethan Lipton.

I do not work for Ethan Lipton.

Posted by: Tom at July 25, 2005 07:45 PM
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