Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hotel Cafe

I went to a concert last night that featured musicians: Rachael Yamagata, Meiko, Thao Nguyen, Emily Wells, Kate Havnevik and Lenka. The show is called The Hotel Cafe that travels around in a group and does a show where all the ladies perform at one time, with no hassle of taking instruments on and off the stage.

During the past couple weeks, I had been psyching myself up for this event. I was excited to finally see personal favorite. Although, I hadn't really followed any of the other ladies...I was excited to see what they had to offer too. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed in the performance last night. It was still good, but it wasn't, "I wish you would play for us all night long" great.

I am not sure what it was...but I have widdled it (sure that is a widdling wood) down to a couple things.

What didn't work

1. I think the Hotel Cafe idea of having all these ladies tour around together is great. HOWEVER, I did not like the idea of having one lady perform 2 songs and then exit the stage to make room for the next one. All in all, every one of them played 4 or 5 songs, but not all at once. One lady would play 2 or 3 songs, and the next would come on. This format hardly allows these ladies to establish a rapport with the audience. Sure, I went there to see one specific musician...but I felt like all musicians were in a sense 'removed' throughout the show because they couldn't get too comfortable before having to exit the stage. They really didn't have time to really get into their music as much as they could have if their songs were consistent and all at once. I felt like things were finally starting to 'get good' but then they would leave the the format permitted. I didn't like it! Maybe other people were not bothered by it, but one thing I love about concerts is how I can really understand and get to know a musician through their songs. A taste of their songs one bit at a time, didn't give me the opportunity to relish their work as a whole. If their goal is to 'spread their name,' I think if the format changed, it would be more effective. I was not sold completely.

2. The sound system was a little off. I hate when I can't hear a musicians voice. Two things that separate these ladies from the mold are their various styles and unique voices. That is how I came to love Rachael's music... her sound was so different...but the kind of different that made me pine for her next release. I couldn't hear the musicians at all!! In fact, I couldn't even hear the instruments that they played. Don't get me wrong, the band was great...even the guitar player with only four working fingers...but I HATED that I couldn't hear their voices and couldn't understand the words to their songs because I couldn't hear them. The bass was WAY too loud and the drums should act as background only...not an overpowering machine. It was not the drummer's show. He repeatedly asked for more sound, but I'm sorry....'twas not your show dude.

Also, get the ladies some decent mics. Come on now...all musicians deserve the best mics ever!

3. Maybe too casual?? I don't know if that is accurate. I guess I was expecting something a little different. This is just my point of view, but I felt that bringing everyone back on and off the stage to help with vocals and such was a little too much. Sure, I'm sure that each musician loves the help of vocals, but I don't think it was necessary to have all the ladies come back on. Maybe assign them to specific songs. Obviously, they were eating grub back stage because they would come onto the stage chomping their food and drinking their drinks. I felt like it was a little too casual and threw everyone in the band off the 'groove' of the show to have so many interruptions. It was probably organized, but watching it...seemed a little unorganized. Then again, if this is just a casual show anyway, I guess it really doesn't matter.

Also...I am not saying these women have to be beauty queens by any means and that they probably have their own style...but if you are going to be casual and wear a bra if you are wearing a white shirt. You are still a performer. I did not pay to see your...well, you know what I mean.

What worked

1. When I could hear the musicians (when the band wasn't overwhelming), I fell in love with the songs all over again. Some were new to me and I loved them enough to check them out online. I am even purchasing some today! I would have loved consistency so the musician and I could really get into the music instead of worrying about going on and off the stage.

I was completely taken off guard by Emily Wells...and was wowed in a way I have never been. She mixed her own music right there in front of our eyes. I was stunned at how impressive she was as a musician and artist. Using her own violin, voice and beat-boxing ability...I watched as she produced her own sounds. She even used bites from the audience as part of her song. That's right, ya'll...I can snap!

I also had not heard very much from Lenka or Meiko and fell in love with their tunes.

Lenka was just so optimistic about everything. Her tunes were very upbeat and I loved when she brought out her lap piano. That was my favorite to really see her raw talent. She was also the girl who would skip onto the stage. She has an incredible stage presence.

I especially loved when Meiko told us a little bit about her new song that she can't wait to record. She said the song was in response to a girl who thought that her boyfriend was cheating on her with Meiko. It was pretty darn funny and very fluid. I can't wait until she records it. A little comedic relief was refreshing, too. It seemed way too serious on stage....

Thao rocked it like only a rocker chick could. It was very impressive to see someone passionately head-banging like she did!

I loved how very individual most of their sounds were. Not one tune sounded similar.

Kate Havnevik has a little Euro thing (since she is from Norway) going on mixed with a little indie was pretty cool. She had this instrument...I have no idea what it is called, but it was like a piano harmonica. Shoot, I can't even describe it, but it was off the hook. I couldn't hear her too well except on her solo...which apparently was on Grey's...had no idea. I'm sure I would have come to find that out sooner or later, since I love all the music on Grey's soundtracks.

Rachael was as impressive as I thought. Her new song is kickin. I would have loved to hear more from her. She did a jazzy type song that, of course, I fell in love with...there was a 'moment' she shared with the guitar player that kind of jazzed up the stage presence.

2. The band was talented. If I had a back up band...I would have chosen this one too. I was pretty impressed by how many instruments were used on the stage during the variety show. The four fingered guitarist, Jason wowed me with his solo that he played with a broken finger. But, he did it for there.

All in all by the end of the evening, I was little worn out by the coming on and going off of each musician. I just didn't feel connected to the musicians in the way I do when I go to a concert with just one musician or band. I guess that is the artistic flare of this show...but in a way, I wish the format was different. I would give this concert and average rating. Also, if you are going to drink or get stoned during the show....don't make it so least bands like Def Leppard can control it on stage and put all that stoned/drunken energy into their music.

Still buying the music, but may think twice about attending the next one with such fervor unless some things change.


V.I.C.K.I. said...

I love Lenka..sounds like Rachael was prob one of the only yanks there. Too bad it wasn't that gr8. Fab to hear about Rhodes. Greece is on of Elena's favorite trips. Mine is still Dollywood. Kiss kiss.

brent said...

Hi, there.

I'm bummed I missed out...I could use an overpowering dosage of estrogen every now and then. Sounds like it was decent. Maybe they'll read this entry and turn things around for the better, eh?

The word you're looking for is whittle, by the way. As a lover of the English language, I am compelled to share this information with you.


Unstoppable Lindsey said...

VICKI: As am I. She wooed me in a way I have never been wooed. I expect the next one will be fab. Oh, Elena must go back. I also expect you to take me to Dollywood.

Brent: You are my inspiration. Thanks for the subject of my next post! You are a life-saver. I certainly hope the hotel cafe will take my words into consideration... but then again, who am I? I should read up on what others are saying....

calanan said...

Hey, just a quick note that I was there, too! I was taking photos for Wasatch Woman Magazine, here's the Flickr slideshow.

Nice to meet you last week!

- mike