Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fiona Apple & Damien Rice @ Summerstage

Ah, Summertsage. I used to get so excited to hear the Summertsage line-up – who was going to be there, what was it going to offer, how was I going to waste my sunny Sunday afternoon? Even though it was free and in Central Park it never seemed overwhelming in any way – people just came, milled about, danced, and that was it. Seeing The Avalanches (supported by Playgroup, aka Trevor Jackson, who didn’t even introduce himself) and Junior Senior (who were there supporting Sparks) at Summerstage were two of my favorite concert going experiences. But then things got more crowded. And tickets started costing money. It was becoming rotten. Last summer I saw M.I.A. at Summerstage, as did (by the looks of the crowd) roughly half of Manhattan and most of the neighboring boroughs. It was hell. But she was great.

This year I wasn’t planning on going to any shows. Actually, I was planning on seeing Lady Sovereign but then I got pissed off that the full length album will have no more than two songs that she hasn’t previewed in concert or on the various EPs, singles, 12”s she’s released over the past year. BULLSHIT, Lady Sov. BULLSHIT.

But, as luck would have it, my girlfriend’s boss had two tickets to the Fiona Apple/Damien Rice show and so she gave them to us. Fifty-dollar tickets. Now, you might think that fifty-dollar tickets would ensure you something like, oh say, A SEAT, but you’d be wrong. You have to scramble with the other bums, tripping over blankets, having your view obscured by kissing couples. It’s just annoying. After sets by David Garza (from my hometown, Austin, Texas, what what) and Damien Rice (who said “fuck” a lot), Miss Apple took the stage behind the piano. Horrible pictures follow.

Before I left for the show I was talking to my friend Carrie. She was silent.

“So, you think it’ll be boring?” I asked.

“Um, terribly,” she said.

I feared the worst. What I got was a little weirder.

The whole thing was, in truth, a bit disconcerting. She seems to genuinely be nuts. And not in the kooky, ‘hey I’m an artist’ way but in the ‘jeez, maybe somebody should get her some help’ way. At various points in the show she shouted into thin air, flailed her arms, threw fists at the piano and roared through her lyrics (which is odd given how delicate and insightful they are). It wasn’t really pleasant as an experience – kind of like walking in on friends of your parents fighting and knowing you already said you’d stay for dinner.

“Um, could you pass the ketchup? Thanks.”

Her live band did well to maintain Jon Brion’s careful ‘wall of sound’ aesthetic, although they weren’t magnificent in any way. Part of me was hoping that she’d play the Jon Brion version of some of the songs from “Extraordinary Machine” but instead, she stuck with the released variations which pale (fucking pale) in comparison.

At one point someone yelled something about Paul Thomas Anderson, the genius filmmaker who broke her heart (which lead to the yelling at invisible people stuff). “Thank you for saying his films are angry,” she said impishly. “That makes me feel better.” I’m glad, Fiona. For a minute there I was worried.

Stereogum had similar feelings.


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