Saturday's show was simply fabulous. The two hours were extremely satisfying, and the format of the show was a pleasant deviation from the standard concert fare.
The venue was interesting. The bar and restaurant are upstairs, and we all lined up, snaking through the dining area, as we waited for the doors to open. The concert itself was in the Duck Room, a dark, cozy basement that had me thinking that it could easily have been a speakeasy back in the day, hiding under the cover of the legitimate business upstairs. It was such a casual atmosphere, too - the "dressing room" for the artists was right next to the stage and we saw them coming in and out, walking through the crowd, several times as we waited. A couple of people were lucky enough to talk to Rachael before the show, and Kim and I tried as well, but she headed backstage just after we went over to where she was talking. By the time the show started, the crowd had swelled to maybe 400 people. It was nice, though - a lot of enthusiasm, but not with the crush of people that can happen with open-area crowds like this.
With so many names listed to play during the night, I wasn't sure how that was going to work or if I was going to enjoy it or not. I feared that we'd get just a couple songs from each of them instead of longer sets, and that's exactly what happened. But, it turned out my fears were unfounded; the short sets and quick rotation kept things fresh and kept a wide variety of sounds pumping through the Duck Room. Each musician played 2 songs the first time through, and then we were treated to a second rotation with each artist playing another couple of songs.
• Alice Russell - She rocked my socks off!! She was by far the Queen of Funk for the night, with the bass grooves and her gorgeous voice getting the night off to a great start. She apparently needs a bit more caution around her bandmates, as the guitarist (Jason, I think his name was?) had given her a black eye the day before. It definitely added a rather unique twist to her "look" on stage, though not as much as the bandaged and bloody pinkie that Jason sported. That led to the grossest moment of the night as he removed the bandage to allow him to play slide on his guitar during Alice's phenomenal rendition of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army", one of the highlights of the night.
• Jaymay - Kim had mentioned her to me before, but I was wholly unfamiliar with her work. I came away impressed with her voice and music, though I'm not sure if it's really my thing or not. I had heard she had kind of a poppy sound, but there was much more of a country/folk feel to it live. She definitely piqued my interest as someone to check out some more.
• Meiko - Completely and utterly unfamiliar with her before the show, she's definitely on my list of artists to check out in the future. She had one of the funniest moments of the night when she came on stage and said it was nice to be playing in St. Louis for the first time - only to be corrected by an audience member that she had been here a while before. I couldn't make out the name of who it was, but her response was, "I don't remember much of that tour. He likes to drink a lot of whiskey!" Another great voice that made the night enjoyable.
• Thao Nguyen - Wow, this chick can rock!! If her album had the same sound and energy that her live show did, I'd have been grooving on it a lot more. With the guitar and the way she worked the stage, I kept thinking to myself, "Hmm, she's definitely getting her Chuck Berry on up there!" I think she worked the crowd amazingly well, with her sing-alongs and her beatboxing on the mic. Any time she comes around the area, I'll be up to watch her perform again.
• Kate Havnevik - I knew the name and had heard a couple of songs, but was not overly familiar with her before the show. I would have enjoyed her performance a lot more if it weren't for the noisy crowd. A lot of what she did was quiet, gorgeous vocals that were simply drowned out by the obnoxiously loud bastards in the room that refused to STFU. Ugh. There were certainly flashes of awesome there that made me want more - pieces of Bjork, pieces of Imogen, pieces of Kate Bush, but in a way that was all her own.
• Rachael Yamagata - Man, what is there to say? She was why I wanted to go to this show and everyone else was just a super yummy added bonus. And wow, did she deliver! Rarely at concerts do I ever get to hear the songs I want them to play the most, but Rachael came out and blew me away with "Be Be Your Love" right off the bat, followed by "Faster" in her first go-round. When she came back on, "Elephants" and "Sunday Afternoon" were next up on my list of most-wanted and she rocked the house with them. The guitarist's solo on "Sunday" was all-the-more impressive knowing that his pinkie was useless and hurting him so much - now THAT is dedication to the job! She closed the show with "Reason Why" and then it was time to go home, happy, tired and satisfied from a night of great music.
Now, going back to the whole noise issue during the show: What is wrong with people? I just have huge issues with this on so many levels.
1. If you paid money for a ticket to go to the show, why would you spend your time talking when the musicians are playing? If all you want to do is drink and talk, go to a bar or stay home and have a party - it's a lot cheaper and more convenient that dropping cash on a concert ticket!
2. Do you not realize that other people are there to actually HEAR the music? If I wanted to hear Jackass A talking to Jackass B, I would buy tickets to a show with their name on it. But you know what? Your names weren't on my ticket! I saw "Hotel Cafe Tour" on my ticket, so unless you're with the tour, I don't want to hear you! This is even more frustrating for artists like this, where a lot of the music can be subtle and quiet and the background noise of Le Jackasses simply overpowered it.
3. If the artists ask you to be quiet, and several people in the crowd are shouting at you to be quiet, why is it so hard to realize that people want you to be quiet?? One lady even shouted back something like, "God, why should I be quiet? It's a concert!!", and that was just the perfect description of what is wrong with these people. That attitude of, "It's a concert so I should be able to talk loud and do whatever I want", shows such a fundamental selfishness and lack of appreciation for music that it makes me all sad and whiny.
Seriously, if you want to be loud and listen to music, just go to a bar. Or buy the CDs and crank them up at home. But out of respect for the artists and the people at the show that actually WANT to hear the music, don't go to concerts. If you can't muster the basic decency to be quiet during a show, then just don't go, or maybe just go to really loud metal concerts where no one can hear you anyway. I know that if you're one of the loud people at shows, all you really care about is yourself and what YOU want to do, but in the future, could you please just be selfish enough to want to go somewhere else so that the decent people of the world can actually enjoy the music?