Monday, July 16, 2007

Let them eat cake

Last night I went to see Anni Rossi at the Cake Shop. Anni Rossi went to my high school. I didn't know her or anything. We didn't have classes together and we never spoke, but I had seen her perform at the music concerts (I went to an arts high school) and thought she was very talented. I also really liked her because I hated the Arts High School and she wrote a song called "Arts High" making fun of the school (although she probably meant it in a loving way, whereas I did not). Anyway, so I happened to notice that she was playing at Cake Shop, so I thought I would go.

We didn't see the first band (we were eating delicious - but expensive - vegan "death by chocolate" cake). But we did catch the second band, The Mad Gregs. I actually didn't think I would like them based on what I had listened to on their MySpace (I fell asleep listening to it before the show, which doesn't make it bad but I didn't think it would make the best concert-going experience). However, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed them. Their music, while very calm, still kept my interest. They played all sorts of different kinds of instruments - synthesizers, bass clarinet, glockenspiels, their laptops, and they even used the cords to the amp to make music, among other things. It was really neat. And the guys were so adorable and sweet and awkward. I wanted to hug every single one of them. One of them at one point was like "awkward is the theme of the night" because everyone thought they were done but they weren't.

Awkward definitely was the theme of the night too, as I knew Anni Rossi wouldn't remember me (she had no reason to. I wasn't in music and we never had any classes together) but my mean and cruel friends made me (there was lots of pushing, dragging and threatening involved) go talk to her about the arts high school. It was so awkward. No, make that mortifying. I wanted to die. She didn't remember me. I didn't expect her to. It would've been fine if I just went up and bought the CDs and told her great show. She never would've known who I was. But no. My friends just had to make me embarass myself.

But so back to the music. So then Anni Rossi went up. It was just her and her viola. She's definitely gotten better since high school, though her style is still very similar. Considering that a large portion of the show was just her and her viola, I was quite impressed at how full her songs sounded and how engaging she was. Plus, having played the violin myself, I know it is not necessarily easy to sing and play an instrument that is supposed to be held under your chin. But she makes it look quite effortless. I wish there had been a piano there because she's an amazing pianist too, and it would've been nice to see her show off all of her skills. And it was definitely much more engaging when The Mad Gregs came up and played with her for her last few songs. She's much more impressive with a band behind her. If you like Regina Spektor, you'll like Anni Rossi. Unfortunately for Anni Rossi, this means she will probably be compared to Regina Spektor all her life, as she has a very similar sound (not to say that Anni is influenced by Regina or not. I suspect when she first started writing music, she hadn't been since Regina Spektor wasn't really on the radar 6 years ago, which means she came up with that style all on her own.)

Lastly was Boo & Boo Too, who (the opposite of The Mad Gregs) I expected to like but didn't. The music on their myspace kind of reminded me of Electric Six (who I'm seeing in concert, on a cruise, on Thursday! yay!) and so I expected them to be really interesting performers. They weren't really. Before they started playing, they turned everything up about as loud as it would go for no real reason since we were in such a small venue. Luckily they provided ear plugs. But this further made me expect a really high energy, interesting performance. I must say I was disappointed. Besides a lot of flailing and twitching by the guitar players (which was only interesting for a few minutes), they basically lacked energy. The one flailing about the most wasn't even on the stage (there wouldn't have been room for him to flail) and had his back toward the audience basically the entire time. And at least one of them (if not all of them) was totally wasted and kept falling off the stage (the stage was only like 4 inches off the ground, but still). Plus I hate people who act like rock stars when they're not and the wasted guitar player at one point knocked the microphone stand over for no reason really aggressively, which is just disrespectful to expensive equipment. If you can't afford to replace it, that means you don't have enough credibility/reason to throw it on the ground. Sorry guys.

Overall, last night was a positive experience. I also watched a few episodes of Flight of the Conchords with one of my mean and cruel friends (I don't have cable so it was my first time seeing the show). I highly recommend it. The great thing about it is how they are just so deadpan. Plus it's kind of a musical and it takes place in NY, which immediately gives it bonus points in my book. The musical sequences are hilarious. And Jermaine looks just like this Czech guy who worked with my study abroad program in Prague. It's kinda weird actually.

Ok, sorry these songs took me so long to put up. I actually had to work at work today... imagine that ;-) And I haven't even really had much of a chance to listen to her CDs, so I will post some old songs from the arts high school too. I think she is one of those artists that I like live better...

First is Ecology, though I like the version on her myspace better (odd that the best one isn't on her CD...). Next we have Venice. I really like this one. I feel like she may have done it in high school, or something similar because it sounds so familiar to me. I wish the song was mixed better. Her voice is so quiet and distant-sounding.

Now I'm going to post some of the live recordings of songs she performed at the Arts High School so you can hear how awesome she is at the piano: Arts High, Unwrinkled T-shirt, and Sleepy Head. I don't actually know if that's what the titles were, but that's what I call them. I just have these CDs from our concerts with no labels of any kind... And sorry to the guy on Unwrinkled T-shirt because I have no idea who it is. Unwrinkled T-shirt is probably my favorite. Sleepy Head was a good example of some of the more experimental music she did (and believe me it got way more experimental than that). And actually, maybe I'll post Public Transportation too. I'm pretty sure that is the correct title of that one. She performed that one a lot and it was an Arts High fave.

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