Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meiko @ The Varsity

Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons opened for Meiko this past Sunday at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Chisel, a Minnesotan native but now living in Appleton, WI, grew up on the folk-gospel music in his family’s Baptist church, an influence that one can hear a glimmer of in the band’s Americana-folk sound. Cory’s family and friends were in the audience that evening, so Cory seemed very at ease and upbeat, making jokes, dedicating songs to the guys in the audience wearing sunglasses indoors, and letting us know that they were not going to push any merchandise on the audience, although we could get their album on iTunes should we wish to (after collaborating a bit with the likes of My Morning Jacket, the band released a new EP not too long ago called Cabin Ghosts).

As for the music itself, Chisel’s voice is soulful in the country-folk way, with a worn-in feeling about it and slightly husky undertone that is incredibly soothing. Chisel vocals are often wonderfully paired with band mate Adriel Harris’ soft and sweet timbre, who plays the keyboard. Without some of the members of the full band (most notably the lack of a drummer), the set at the Varsity was laid-back and felt more like old friends crooning together on a southern porch at dusk.

After Cory Chisel & The Wandering Songs closed with the homespun tune "Home In The Woods," Meiko, with a guitar and beer bottle in hand, got on stage and started things off with the indie-pop "Piano Song." I have to say that Meiko's live voice differs from recordings in that it comes across much more young-sounding, yet it is still undeniably impeccable, but I got to wondering just how old she actually is (google was no help on this matter, so I must remember to ask her later in an upcoming interview). One of the great things about Meiko's voice is that it sweetly glides without an ounce of strain or force. It is completely natural and beautifully true.

After the applause from the opening number, Meiko suddenly blossomed from a shy-looking girl holding a huge guitar in a darkened room to a genuine and sweet friend on a stage, sharing lots of stories and answering any fan's impromptu questions. Meiko admitted her nervousness of performing but commented on how the Varsity felt like a "big living room." Last Sunday night was her third time performing at the Varsity and marked a special occasion of sorts- the first time Meiko performed there someone took a photo for a Meiko poster ("that really showed off my pores") and to her horror she discovered on her second venture that the giant poster was pasted up in the green room. This time she found that someone had drawn a giant penis on her poster. Meiko quipped, "You haven't made it until you've had a giant penis drawn on your face."

Continuing on with the honest and laid-back evening, after performing "Under My Bed," a fan asked her what that song was about and she admitted that it was about a breakup and was suddenly was re-applicable in her life right now. When said fan asked, "Aw, what happened?" she wittily replied, "Um, well, our relationship was like the Presidency - his four years were up and... we decided that he didn't get a second term."

Meiko invited her bandmates (or as she called them, her "superdogs") up to join her on bass, mandolin and keys for a few numbers and went on to play songs like "Shitty Apartment," "Hawaii" and a new song about a good lookin' loser. Closing with a cover of "Superfreak," a choice I did not expect but found quite fun, I realized there was still so much in store for this young and authentic performer. The evening was a bit more low-key than expected, but when your encore song is called "Hot Dog," I think you can afford to keep things a bit chill.

Check out more photos below:
Meiko @ The Varsity


Anonymous said...

Wow - sounds like it was an awesome show!! I'm looking forward to seeing Meiko when she comes back through town as the opener for Eric Hutchinson next month!

mmrules said...

Luv her voice..