Last night Julia and I went to see Joanna Newsom. I was pretty excited about going because I think Joanna Newsom is great and weird and expected some bitchin' harp playing. I'll admit I was a little bummed that the K-Fed concert at the House of Blues turned out to be free. If I didn't already have a ticket to Joanna Newsom I would have definitely gone for at least three songs. I was also really aggravated that no one would go for me. Honestly, what would you have to lose?
Anyway, we got to Logan Square Auditorium as the opener was performing. His name was Bobby Birdman and sounded about as exciting as his dumb name. Granted, I have a low tolerance for opening acts that consist of one guy playing guitar and singing songs I've never heard (*cough*StephenMalkmus*cough*), but I mean, really. I didn't care. Luckily, we got there twenty minutes late and only got to hear BoBird's last song, which is like the Opening Act Best Case Scenario. They should only ever play for thirty minutes.
While standing around, waiting for Joanna Newsom to come out, I noticed how shitty the venue was. It was basically a high school auditorium with a portable metal stage at one end that was raised only about four feet from the floor. When Joanna came out and sat at the back of the stage with a huge fucking harp straddled between her legs, I realized that both the venue and the stage set-up made absolutely no sense, since only the people two feet from the stage could see her.
She opened the set with two songs from her first album, "Bridges and Balloons" and "The Book of Right-On," which are both really, really good. And I was excited for the old stuff. Julia asked me before the show if I thought she would play mostly songs from her new album and I said, "I really hope not." If you're not in the know, her new album, Ys, is just five songs. Five long songs. Surely she wouldn't play mostly stuff from her new album.
And then, after her second song, she said, "I'm going to play this traditional Scottish song, and then my band's going to join me and we're going to play my new album. From start to finish!"
To make a long story short, I loved/hated the concert. After thirty minutes and having only heard three of her songs (I actually lost count, convinced that the third song was actually her fourth, and then I was pissed when she played the fifth), I was getting very antsy and bored. And then she'd keep singing and I'd think, "This is really pretty." And then after the fourteenth verse I'd want to kill myself all over again. (At one point, I regretted not bring a pen and a pad of paper with me, since I began making mental to-do lists.)
And of course I was standing next to the most obnoxious guy in the venue. Of course. It always happens. This guy decided to remove his leather sandals (offense number one) (they had those STRAPS for your BIG TOES) and dance around. It was very subtle crazy dancing, but he was dancing to harp music. Very slow, soft harp music. If it was an electric harp I could understand, but, No. Don't dance like an asshole to Joanna Newsom.
The set ended and she received the most prompt ovation I've ever seen. I'm not sure if people really thought it was that great, or if they were just relieved that the dude to her right finally stopped his three-minute SAW solo. She came out and played one song from the first album as an encore, but confessed that her voice was "starting to go" and she still had to play a later show.
It was a good show, I guess, but it was rather had to stand there and listen to a harpist play songs that lasted fifteen minutes at a time. I felt like I was in a night class or something and kept wanting a break in between the songs to stretch and grab some snacks.
In a slightly unrelated note, we saw this transexual on the Belmont bus on the way home from the show, and when she got up to get off the bus, she smacked Julia in the face with a plastic bag filled with something, possibly tranny supplies. It was probably the most entertaining things I've seen in my entire life. I love the trannies!