Saturday, 16 February 2013

Live Show - Jeff Mangum


Where: Poughkeepsie, New York
Venue: Barvadon Opera House

After driving from my home in Connecticut, I finally made it to Poughkeepsie, where I parked for $5 in the local car park. My $95 tickets were finalised at the door, as I entered ready to watch one of the greatest songwriters of the 90's. First up was Tall Firs, a duo turned trio signed by Thurston Moore for his record label Ecstatic Peace! I went into this set with absolutely no expectations and I am not sure if I am impressed or asleep. They sounded very mellow and between each song they tried to tell jokes. Apparently they saw a stripper place with a salad bar which was pretty funny to hear about. They seemed charismatic and happy to be there but something about them was very dreary and slightly boring. The person in front of me was super excited about them while both the people sitting next to me were falling asleep… So I guess there was a mixed reception. The duo worked well together with their guitars weaving and their voices harmonizing perfectly. Both band members were totally on the same page but their performance lacked dynamic. It was a beautiful sound, but not very exciting.

30 minutes had passed before Julian Koster emerged. I had never heard The Music Tapes before (Eddie introduced me to them the night before), but I was blown away by their performance. Koster started the set with the amazing electric saw sounds on top of a pre-recorded circus-esque sample behind him. That saw sounds so cool! The rest of the band joined in after. Their sound was great! They had keyboards, a gigantic chime thing, horns, bass, banjo, and various drums all across the floor of the stage. Koster even had drum sticks in his shoes so that he could tap his foot and percuss to the music! So creative.


After their set, I was telling my friend how crazy Koster seemed when he talked about childhood ideas of the origin of televisions and all the interesting things about a seven foot metronome, but he told me that their entire set with all the props was a story and that I should see it as a play- each prop was a character. They had a cute TV, named static, one of Koster's childhood friends. Koster is incredibly talented at singing, fiddling, and banjo playing. His enthusiasm and charisma certainly impressed the audience. The backing band was great as well, including the horns that blended perfectly with the rest! I loved feeling the bass as well. They played a great rendition of their latest album Mary's Voice, the songs were raw, and Koster was the playmaker in all of this.

When Jeff first walked on, I was like 'wow!' He had a big long beard, white hair, and actually looked old. He looked quite different from the old pictures on Google Images. He had four different acoustic guitars and each corresponded to the guitar he recorded with. It was so cool- I think he sounded way better live than he did on his studio recordings. When Jeff sang you could literally hear a pin drop. I liked  both "Two Headed Boy Part 2" and the different "Two Headed Boy", unusually switched in live performance.

His voice was really beautiful and the crowd sang along too! People in the audience even cried, which was pretty crazy. Between each song, people shouted to him, saying “play Ghost” or “Let us see your face, you are beautiful!” People said some of the funniest things! He wore a big green hat that covered his face - I wish we could have seen his face more. One audience member asked about his sweater, and Jeff said that he got his sweater to impress his grandparents. I thought that was cute and it made him seem really normal to me, instead of some ambiguous legend. For his encore, he had Koster of The Music Tapes come out and join him to play the saw. He played "In an Airplane Over The Sea" and it was cool hearing it with Koster’s input. Overall, this show was super fun and would go again in a heartbeat!
~Mary

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