Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tread Softly: Dear Nora, Bobby Birdman, Devon Williams @ the Smell May 2, 2007

Downtown Los Angeles can be a scary place to venture, even at noon on a Tuesday, but especially at night on a Wednesday. Getting to the Smell is also an adventure in itself, especially when you don't really know where it is, but you do know you need to go down an alley, downtown... and did I mention, at night? Right. Well, tonight is the second night of Dear Nora's "last"(this is sorta confirmed) tour, so risking getting puked on by a junkie was just something I would have to deal with.

Tonight's lineup included Lloyd & Michael (which we missed), Devon Williams (who we caught probably the last two songs of his set), Bobby Birdman (in the dark, more on that in a minute),and Dear Nora of course. What I quickly learned about the way things are done at the smell is this: informal. Very informal. When we walked in the door, kids were sitting crossed-legged on the floor, practically in the lap of Devon Williams. It reminded me of my third grade teacher who would play guitar for us instead of making us learn to read a clock. Oh, and I'm not fooling about the kid reference either. The Smell is a rare breed of clubs, admitting all ages and NO ALCOHOL, which makes it hard to get people overage to go there. However, if you are sitting there watching acoustic performances while next to you some 4th generation emo boy stresses over his math homework, alcohol won't even help with the situation. It is a cute little spot though, I'm not knocking it at all. When Matt & Kim are there to perform in the near future I won't even bat an eyelash about showing up there.

The Bobby Birdman performance was interesting. He moved into the back of the space where the stage is (though he stayed in front of it on the floor), however either the lights weren't working, or they never work, I dunno. Regardless, this is my first "in the dark" performance ever. He made the best of it though. It was just him and his guitar, a bit warbley in the voice, and not always hitting the right chords but he has this soothing quality to him that I found enjoyable to listen to. I did however fear for his safety, as he insisted on jumping around, illuminated only briefly by the pop of flashes going off around him. Oh, right, that started to border on ridiculous towards the end. All I could see were these purple spots in the dark from all the flashes, jeeze kids, really...

I think perhaps that Mr. Birdman went over his time a bit because Katy (dear nora) started tuning her guitar in the front room and when he stopped, her set pretty much started. A mad rush between rooms, and that was pretty much the only pause between sets, which is great. More shows should be like that.

The Dear Nora set was fantastic, although I really don't have any other set of hers to compare it to. Whew! Thank goodness I caught this show if she really is stopping. Anyways, with the exception of the first song, What a Weird Cactus, which had a young fellow accompanying her with guitar, the rest of the 45 minute (or so) set was just her and her guitar, and her random conversations with herself and the audience. Oh, so, some of the songs she did play were: Caribou- Timber Wolf, You Looked Like a Portrait (which was a special request from a boy determined to hear the song before she stopped touring), Hung Up, The New Year (i think...I may be cloudy on this), and closed with Love Song for My Friends (also a request). At the end it was just a shout out what you want to hear performance. Oh, and like always, the order of the songs are simply listed in what I remembered first.

Perhaps informal may not be the best word to describe the scene, intimate is better. When she sings, it's kinda like when you're with a good friend and you're just tooling around on instruments singing to each other, that's kinda how it felt. Except only she was singing... I was humming to myself.

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