Sunday, March 14, 2010

Concert review: Jenny Owen Youngs, Bess Rogers, Allison Weiss

Jenny Owen Youngs, Bess Rogers, Allison Weiss (Spring Break Forever tour)
Friday March 12, 2010 at Garfield Artworks
with Leigh, Erin, Spencer, Lisa, Amy

This show was all kinds of fun. Jenny, Bess and Allison are three singing/songwritings ladies who, apparently, like to have fun on stage and play music, and that's that. There was hilarious stage banter, a huge assortment of songs featuring, I believe, all 6 possible combinations of the 3 of them, and a show-ending song about Spring Break. What's not to love?

Allison Weiss played first as the others set up some instruments behind her. The whole show started late since they got stuck in traffic or construction or something on the way. The six of us had walked to the venue and got there a bit after 7:30, but there were only 3 people inside and the sound guy said that they were running 30 minutes late, so we walked down two blocks to see what was around and realized there was nothing to see. We ended up setting down at the bar of the “Envy nightclub” right next door to the venue, but it did not seem like a nightclub at all. There was no dancing. What they did have was really cheap and strong mixed drinks, a couple people eating food in a booth, and two TVs blaring “Supernanny” and “Rush Hour 3”. Very strange, but in an endearingly quirky way. Leigh ordered a gin & tonic, and one of the ladies working there had to walk to the convenience store across the street to get tonic. They didn't have limes, but how often do you get that kind of TLC in your G&T? We all stayed for a drink and then bid Envy adieu. I may have to stop back there the next time I go to a show at the Artworks, just to see if it still exists and remains just as strange.

Anyway, Allison played a bunch of songs and entertained us with her witty and charming banter. She was genuinely excited to be performing and must have shouted “Spring Break!” at least three times, encouraging those of us who were “of age” and not “all ages” to get drunk and dance. None of that happened, unfortunately. Gradually, Bess and Jenny joined in on some songs, adding keyboard and guitar and bass to the songs. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a performance with so little percussion; the only drum-like instrument they used was a tambourine, played by foot-stomping. For one song, Jenny played glockenspiel while seated in the audience. It was cool to turn around in my chair and watch her up close, knocking gently on the metal keys while the girl sitting next to her held out her iPhone for lighting. Check out the links below to see some videos of Allison performing and to get a better idea of just how enjoyable she is to watch; it's infectious. She also has a live album available for free download from her website.

Bess Rogers played some of her songs next, and the other two joined in occasionally. Her songs were a little more mellow than Allison's, and she also played the ukulele. I guess I don't have much to say about her set. It was fun and interesting, but I think I liked the others' songs more.

Jenny Owen Youngs played some of her material last. Her voice is so interesting, particularly the way it looks like she almost has to force some lines into the microphone whereas some others fly out of her mouth fast and loudly. I've listened to the two albums of hers that I have sporadically and always enjoy them, but it's not something I find myself playing over and over in succession like some other albums I like. This set was a good assortment of upbeat songs and more slow, introspective numbers, such as her (likely) most well-known single, “Fuck Was I”. The show ended with all 3 of them onstage playing a rousing singalong “Spring Break” song with some pretty silly lyrics and a vocalized skatted “guitar solo” by Allison and concluding with a kazoo outro, the kazoo being provided by the sound guy during the song. All in all, it really was a fantastically fun show.

Allison Weiss – live at Billboard Magazine
Allison Weiss – Kids (MGMT cover)
Allison Weiss – live at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA (the whole concert is on youtube, this is the first video)

Bess Rogers – I Don't Worry
Bess Rogers – What We Want live

Jenny Owen Youngs and Bess Rogers – Voice on Tape
Jenny Owen Youngs – Transmitter Failure live

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