Saturday, May 12, 2007

Please Stop Screaming in My Ear: Kristin Hersh, the McCarricks, and Dolorean @ the El Rey May 9, 2007

I'm not sure how it is that 1. I've never been to the El Rey 2. I've never even noticed its presence along Wilshire Blvd, even when a friend of mine briefly lived two blocks east of the place 3. I was able to hold my head up for almost 4 hours this night. Suffering from a severe lack of sleep and a sushi-induced food coma, myself and a friend stumbled into a time warp of velvet and 'crystal' from an era long ago. I'm not completely knowledgeable about the El Rey and its historical aspects, but it sure looked pretty inside. Unfortunately these brief moments before the show were going to be the only happy moments for a couple hours until Kristin Hersh came on.

I tried. I wanted to root for this opening band, Dolorean, from Portland. They were along the lines of alt-country, maybe Wilco or something a bit more folk-y. Except, they had a tendency to drone on a bit, even when the singer would stop and talk. One thing though that really got to me was that the guitarist kept switching between his electric guitar and a slide guitar, which meant he was up and down and up and down and wasting time. Perhaps if I wasn't so close to wanting to close my eyes, I would have enjoyed this set as a very mellow one, but tonight was not the night.

Second up was the McCarricks, who are the string section touring with Hersh right now. The girl plays the violin and the guy plays the cello. They are either husband and wife or brother and sister, I forget. I was mildly interested in seeing them because a friend of mine RAVED on about them when he saw Hersh and tour in NY a few weeks back. Their set up is this: they face each other on stage while a backdrop between them plays 6-7 minute mini movies that they play over with an electronic prerecorded soundtrack accompanying them. The concept is kinda cool, because some people cannot sit and watch classical instruments, regardless of how up tempo they are. However, the dark ambient music they produced was hindered by the amateurish movies. Art school films have better production values than these. I found myself cringing and just resigned to closing my eyes till it was over, thank god we had seats.

Kristin Hersh is an excellent performer. She needs to stop having such awful opening bands.

Well, by the time that Kristin Hersh came on I was slightly irritated by the earlier performances and also by this one woman who sat next to me and was actually enjoying the show. Really enjoying the show. Do you ever wonder where all those loud woops and woo-hoos come from at a show? This is the woman, I've found her. She also didn't seem to care that she was screaming in my ear the whole time. With all that aside though, Hersh's set was really enjoyable. She played many songs off the new album, Learn to Sing Like a Star, and also did some older tunes, like Your Ghost. Actually, thanks to Tim and the internet, here's the whole set list:
01. intro
02. Wild Vanilla - Learn to sing...
03. Day Glo - Learn to sing...
04. Nerve Endings - Learn to sing...
05. Under The Gun - Learn to sing...
06. In Shock - Learn to sing...
07. Gazebo Tree - Strange Angels (late 90's)
08. Your Dirty Answer - Sunny Border Blue (early 2000's)
09. Winter - Learn to sing...
10. The Cuckoo - Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album)
11. Your Ghost- Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album)
12. Sugarbaby - Learn to sing...
13. Listerine - Sunny Border Blue (early 2000's - lyrics reflect breakup of muses)
14. The Thin Man - Learn to sing...
15. White Bikini Sand - Muses album Limbo 97? hidden track
16. encore break
17. Me And My Charms - Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album)
18. The Letter - Hips and Makers (94ish 1st solo album: never performs live)
19. Hook In Her Head - Muses Album Real Ramona, last album with tanya 92ish)

Her band was the guys from 50 Foot Wave and the McCarricks, who fell in very well with this set. Hersh is very hypnotic to watch, and not just because I was ready to pass out with sleepiness. She gently sways while she sings, lulling her audience while she sings of pain and loneliness and dark things, while at the same time smoothing it over with a sweet voice. I've always found her interesting to watch because of these qualities, even when she is screaming into the microphone it's somehow easy to take in.

Sometime after midnight the show came to a close. My eyes were on the verge of permanently shutting, but inside I was glad I was able to catch the show. Hersh comes from my old neck of the woods, so seeing her always brings up memories of the east coast music scene. It also reminds me of snow, which I why I'll never go back.

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