Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Break Out Your Clove Cigarettes

This past weekend Dear Husband and I went to a concert. Much to my amazement I had discovered a musician before they came to town rather than after. It was like fate was whispering in my ear. Dear Husband went along because he’s a good sport. He and I do not usually share the same taste in music, so I considered this a loving sacrifice on his part. Kudos, sweetie. I owe you a basketball game.

When we drove into the parking lot I saw a young man hovering on the edge, talking into a cell phone. “Isn’t that - I mean, that looks just like him!” Dear Husband replied, “They all look like that.” And, indeed, a lot of young men there did have that sort of school-boyish look, with hair short in the back and floppy in the front. A lot of others looked like they spent their lives in comic book stores. When the show started, Dear Husband said, “Well, I guess that was him.” Oh well, not that I would have interrupted a cell phone call to ask for an autograph. I’m too well-bred.

Floppy Haired Guy was Final Fantasy (or Owen Pallett – they are one and the same). Owen Pallett is a talented violinist. He has done work for Arcade Fire and The Pet Shop Boys and some other people I’m not so familiar with. He’s also played onstage with my other favorite artist Patrick Wolf. His live performances are mesmerizing. In the studio he has a bunch of other musicians to support him. On stage he plays his violin into a loop pedal (ooo, new terminology), then replays and records over THAT, and then does some more (including creating percussion on his violin) and adds THAT to the mix, to create layers and layers of sound. Sometimes he sings into the violin. I was wiggly with amazement.

While he was playing I was almost certain of God's existence.

He wasn't the only act. There was also a singer who came on before him, with the unlikely name of Larkin Grimm. I haven’t found anything online that captures her voice live. It has an elemental force; perhaps she channels it directly from a volcanic fissure. My jaw might have hit the floor a few times. She moved seamlessly from normal singing into a sort of banshee wail. She was … unsettling. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she was a voodoo priestess or the tormented ghost of an Appalachian mountain woman, or, well, just about anything except for a normal, run of the mill, person.

The main band was the Mountain Goats. I guess they’ve been around forever and done a dozen or so records, all of which have some sort of loopy concept. They have the sort of solid fan base of vegetarians and semi-hippie slacker types. Seriously, there was an overabundance of Birkenstocks in the audience and the pervasive scent of clove cigarettes. Their latest album is The Life of the World to Come, and all the songs are based in some way on a piece of scripture. They aren’t a Christian band by any means, but it seems the singer really likes to read the Bible. For fun.
Here is a song from the Mountain Goats called Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace. Not sure what's going on in this song, but it involves tying someone up, and you can't go wrong with that.