Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Concert Review: Allison Weiss + Mitten + Donora @ Thunderbird Café / 01.14.2012

Catching up on weeks-old shows. Mitten put out a catchy and lovely EP last year called See You Bye. I really liked it and was kinda surprised by how much I did, and wrote that in this review here for DUL. I've managed to see Allison Weiss four or five times here in town over the last couple of years, and I saw that they were touring together this winter and stopping here at the Thunderbird, hooray! And they're playing with Donora, even better!

I emailed the ladies of Mitten to set up an interview a couple of days before the show, and had plans to meet up with them and AW for some pizza before the gig, but unfortunately they got delayed on the road. We ended up just meeting at the venue after soundcheck and right before they played. (That's their soundcheck in the photo on the left, with AW internetting and Hugh snapping photos.) I had a quick conversation with Joanna and Maia about their current tour and their plans for future recording. What struck me was how much god damn fun they were having. In the most pleasant way possible, I could hardly get a word in! They cracked jokes left and right, smiled constantly, jabbed at each other and told tour anecdotes, and were genuinely outgoing and bubbly the whole time. The best kind of interview, really, but darn hard to transcribe (especially with the background noise by the pool table there) so I'm working on that and it'll hopefully be done next week.

My friends and I sat at the table at the front of the balcony, which is an optimal viewpoint at the Thunderbird, I gotta say, but it kinda sucks for sound if there are lots of people at the bar up there. If people are respectful and pay attention, it is outstanding for sound, right up in the middle of the sonic spaces, but if everyone is really chatty, like this night … well, it can be really frustrating. I had trouble hearing banter, and some of the quieter moments of Mitten's music—which are some of the best parts of their music, really!—got a little blurred and almost drowned out. Fuckin' ay. Overall, they played great and seemed to have a good time, regardless, and there were a couple of folks up front dancing and singing along, so I'm glad for that. It's just too bad that our location wasn't the best and there was a big group of us so moving up to the front of the stage wasn't gonna work.

This trend kinda continued into Allison Weiss' set. She blasted through a bunch of new songs, and the usual old faves—"I Was An Island", "Fingers Crossed", "You + Me + Alcohol"—and her downtempo cover of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend", which is gorgeous. Having just seen her play in December at Point Park, there wasn't much new to talk about. She played well, was her usually friendly self on stage, and the crowd down at the stage level was really into it. Mitten came back onstage to play a song or two at the end, too; that was fun.

Donora came in and rocked the house, as usually. It became clear as the night went on that most people were there to see Donora and were kinda waiting through the first two sets to see them. That irked me a little. As much as I love local bands and am glad to see when they become increasingly popular, I don't like seeing this dynamic at shows where it's like you can completely forget about the fact that people are standing on stage playing songs for your entertainment and you're just talking to your friends like they don't exist. It's fine to not like bands and not want to pay attention, but just do it somewhere else. Go downstairs to the bar. Go outside. Play a game of tic tac toe. Whatever it is. It's just really annoying to everyone else trying to watch and listen when they have to fight through your idle chit-chat.

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