Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My Dinner With Avey (and Kria...and Greg...and come to think of it, there was no dinner. Just music)

So here's how I almost didn't get to see the Greg Davis/Avey Tare/Kria Brekkan show at Firehouse Gallery last night...

I raced out of work at 5:00 yesterday, drove my little Matrix at breakneck speeds (ok, 45 tops) and headed into downtown Burlington. I had to pick up my girlfriend Jaime-Lynn first, and then we headed to Firehouse to buy tickets for the concert. When we got there, no one was around. I waited for about ten minutes and finally a woman came downstairs and told me that tickets would not be sold until the gates opened at 7:30.

Ok, I thought, I was planning on getting the tickets & then getting dinner & a few drinks before the show; I'll just change the order a bit. So we went off to American Flatbread & got some 'za, salads and a bottle of Las Rocas. A nice, relaxing dinner and when we finished it was only 6:45.

So we headed off to Wine Works to get another glass of wine (hey, I don't get out much...) and they were having some weird speed dating thing going on and the only table available was right in the midst of it. It was kind of depressing to watch, so we opted for another bottle, of Borsao instead. Luckily we didn't have the fortitude to finish it, as we probably would have been quite sloppy for the show. We paid the bill at 7:35 and walked over to the Firehouse.

When I got in line, I was stunned--a queue of flesh (unfortunately nearly all caucasian, but that's for a different blog/rant) that went past the Firehouse toward RiRas. Crap. I saw someone that I knew from a previous job that now works for the Firehouse & I told him that I was on the reserved list. He was about to usher me in the side door when he realized I wasn't alone & told me that I'd unfortunately have to join the rest of the poor, huddled masses. Sigh.

So we got in line & I chatted a bit with the guy behind me about Andrew Bujalski (which I guess earns me official "hipster" status) and watched in horror as the seats fllled up. The one damn concert that I finally make it out for & I'm going to miss it because of delicious red wine. I was picturing myself leaning with my ear against the glass outside for an hour and a half, shivering.

But no--we managed to get in and take some side seats in the back. I got to say a quick hello to Casey Rea and we sat down as Greg Davis was doing the evening's intros and preparing to do his opening set.

I've only recently been introduced to Greg's work, and it has absolutely blown me away. His collaboration with Sebastien Roux,"Paquet Surprise", is one of the most beautiful and deceptively simple albums I've heard in a long time. I have great respect for music that you can either listen to pensively over a good set of headphones or fall asleep to because you feel so comfortable with it. "Paquet Surprise" achieves both for me. If you don't own this album, you should.

Greg began his set with a long, single note drone that sounded like warm amp feedback hum. It had an immediate comforting effect on the audience. My girlfriend put her head on my shoulder. The girl in front of us put her head on her boyfriend's shoulder. Greg has apparently found the aphrodisiac note. The room buzzed and purred like a huge electronic cat. Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, the tone began to shift in pitch and more instrumentation came in. An electric violin (or at least it sounded like it--I was too far back & there were too many heads to see the instruments), then chimes. The drones shifted to a simple yet multilayered melody, sounding like what I dream a church choir should sound like.

Then slowly, again almost imperceptibly, the layers faded back to reveal a recording of nature sounds that I never even noticed before in the mix. Then only the chimes were left. And then silence. What an amazingly beautiful piece; it makes me proud to know that we have a talent like Greg here in Burlington.

A few minutes after Greg's set, Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan made the stage. I probably wouldn't have been able to pick them out from the rest of the crowd, except for the fact that they looked slightly older & exuded the calm confidence that can only come from being a power-couple who belonged to two of the most critically-acclaimed indie bands of the past decade. That and Avey's sweater. Who the hell else would wear that? But I gotta admit--dude pulled it off.

Their set was incredible. The fact that a single piano, acoustic guitar & two voices could fill up the gallery like a symphony made me acutely aware of the power of good songwriting. The crowd was literally leaning forward, trying to catch the cryptic lyrics that Avey was putting forth, bent and twisted, loud and soft, baritone & falsetto. I hate to put forth such a comparison, but it reminds me of concert footage of the early 60s Dylan shows I've seen, where everyone is seated quietly, latched to every annunciation of phrase. It's quite a tag to put on someone, but if anyone is going to be the Dylan of our generation, I'd rather have it be Tare than some little emo twit like Connor Oberst. (Cue "Donna")

Kria was like some gentle woman-child, the slightly-twisted offspring of Erik Satie and Bjork. Her piano playing and pixie-like voice worked perfectly together, reminding me of why I had liked her former band, Mum, so much. Her style also melded perfectly with Avey's; whether it was genius or just the chemistry that happens when two young musicians in love work together, i don't know. Maybe a little of both.

The songs went from gentle & soft to harsh & tinny, but always beautiful as the sounds reverberated off of the ceramic vases, pitchers & plates that lined the side walls of the gallery. Avey and Kria finished their set and I left the gallery, a bit hungover from the wine & the beautiful music I had heard that night.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Between your review, Casey's and Tanner's, it sounds like I missed a hell of a show. Feeling jealous.

Thanks for the review.

jay said...

Sorry you missed it; I really wish someone audio or video recorded the show, but I doubt it; I don't even remember anyone taking a photo. That said, if any local band ever wants to film a live show in Burlington, I have a Panasonic DVX100 24P camera that I would be happy to use to film your show or loan to someone who will. Contact me @ if you're interested.

As for the review, you're quite welcome--and once again, thank you so much to the 400+ visits to this blog since I started it two weeks ago. I'm so buying the 1st round at our B-Town Music Bloggers FAP!

Anonymous said...

nice review.
i took a few pics of avey and kria.
they should be on my flickr soon.

unfortunately there were only about 20 people at the jack rose / peter walker / f.s. blumm show tonight.
it was really great. its amazing what people know about or will come out for and what people dont come out for.

jay said...

Although I'm sure name recognition had a big part to play in the difference in attendance between the shows, I'm sure weather had just as much to do with it. I had every intention of going & then driving home in the mini-blizzard, some guy on White St. in a Honda Civic missed side-swiping me by about three inches. At that point I decided just to get off the road and go home.

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