Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dispatch on the John Vanderslice show

Playing right now: a slightly hissy (surface noise) 10" by Clifford Brown and Max Roach, "Daahoud" specifically

Last night was the John Vanderslice show at the Andy Warhol Museum. Sometimes you build something up in your to such a high degree that it's impossible for the real thing to meet your expectations.

That wasn't the case last night.

I've listened to John's albums a lot, the last three especially. Hearing these songs in person was totally mind-blowing. The full (four-piece) band really brought them to life and emphasized subtleties that the albums only hint at. The albums really came together in the studio from what I gather, instead of the studio replicating a live performance. I was thinking how the tunes acts sort of as inner shots of John's head, and now they're so much more in person.

He didn't play "Coming and Going On Easy Terms" which is one of my favorite Vanderslice songs. That's not an easy song to call for from the audience either, so I couldn't do an obnoxious request. But the set offered a good cross-section of songs from almost all of his albums so it was a real treat.

Dave, his drummer, played about half the songs with one hand doing moog bass parts while the other played the beat. And bassist Daniel spent half the set playing violin and singing while he bowed. He had a great effect on his fiddle that turned a steady, bowed noted into 16th notes that really kicked. When Ian the keyboardist had some technical difficulty, Daniel did a HI-larious imitation of Michael McDonald playing "Little Wing." This was especially funny for me and my friend Brendan, for whom Michael Mc is a running joke.

The show ended with an encore of about four songs performed in the entrace gallery with the audience surrounding the band. Ian played concertina, Dave played floor tom and xylophone and Daniel stuck with the fiddle. And boy can that young man harmonize!

It should be mentioned that there was a really good crowd there. I didn't think that many people knew about John, based on all those years of playing shows with out of town bands who I thought would appeal to more people, but who sadly didn't draw very well. This exceeded my expectations, and on top of that, I only knew one person there besides Brendan.

All I can say is the New Pornographers have a tough act to follow.

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