The Monster Post of Revival (including Vienna Teng concert report)August 10, 2009 at 11:45 am | Posted in Music, Vienna Teng, _live performances | 1 Comment
Okay, I’ve delayed this post for wayyyyyy too long. Blame manga, hanging out with friends, AMV making, and laziness…
But now let me crawl out of my grave and…recap my East Coast trip.
Well, it was more like an Ivy League university tour…I went to see Harvard, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, and Princeton…mainly for my younger sister who is entering high school in the fall (waayyy early for it, but whatever). I do love the humid, prone-to-rain East Coast summer weather a lot more than the raging dry heat of sun-kissed southern California. And their universities have beautiful buildings…old English style or Greek temple-inspired architecture totally owns our Spanish blocks of brick.
Highlights of the trip:
– meeting up with my school friend (who lives in NYC) for dinner
– watching the musical Phantom of the Opera. Howard McGillin was AMAZING as the Phantom. I was more used to a clearer, less operatic voice for Christine since I listened to the Sarah Brightman and Emmy Rossum renditions a lot, but the actress who played her onstage was wonderful as well
– going on a Segway tour in Washington, DC. Those things are wicked fun and I really hope to own one someday…
– family rafting trip at Lehigh River in Pennsylvania. I was disappointed it wasn’t actually a real whitewater rafting trip, but the water wars with the other families’ boats made it totally worth it :) (I steered while my sis dumped buckets on other kids…pity we didn’t rent a water gun)
And the real reason you probably read the post…the Vienna Teng concert report! Yes, it’s been over a month but HELL YES I can remember how wonderful it was.
Here’s my ugly mug and the lovely Vienna’s after the concert. I forgot to bring my camera so I used my cell phone.
The concert was on June 22nd, 2009 at a theater called Largo at the Coronet. Originally I thought it would be in the main auditorium (which houses about 200 ish) but it ended up being in the Little Room (a little bar/almost cafe like setting which can hold about 60 people). It was $20 admission and I went with two friends – Juan, a music junkie who likes to go to concerts to explore artists, and Red, a fellow Vienna Teng fan. Despite the fact my dad’s GPS kept fouling up, we managed to get there about five minutes before Vienna walked on the stage. The stage was TINY. Like…so tiny that not even a small rock band could fit on there. In fact, I think the drum set alone would take up nearly two thirds of the space. It was a very intimate setting though, I liked it~ My friends and I were split up around the room randomly – I sat on the right side near the front.
I don’t remember the set list exactly, but I managed to look it up on the Vienna Teng forums. I also don’t remember much of her comments between songs, but I’ll see what I can dredge up from my memory~
She had an interesting setup – a piano in the left corner (my left) and for some inexplicable reason at the time, two microphones coming from different directions.
Vienna opened up with “Whatever You Want” – one of my all time favorites. It sounded nice with just piano~ I loved how she built up for the chorus and then quieted down during the chorus. Right after, she went into the Lake version of “Gravity”. Instead of the rapid arpeggios, she accompanied herself with slow moving chords. It’s much more sad and resigned than the original and seeing it live almost made me tear up. The next song was faster, and it wasn’t one I’d ever heard before. I did like the images the lyrics gave me though – especially how she mentioned that two people were coal miners together. I found out later that this was “In Another Life” from her newest album, Inland Territory.
There was a pause after that set, and Vienna told the audience she took requests. I dearly wanted to hear “Lullabye for a Stormy Night” but didn’t exactly have the guts to shout it out. “Shasta” was the one Vienna played next. She explained that it was inspired by a mountain and a billboard sign, and was about a fictional situation she hoped to never be in (audience laughter here). It was about a pregnant young woman about to give birth (from the sounds of it, it was an unplanned pregnancy since she mentioned the movie Juno). She also related a story that she was once playing the song over the radio in Wisconsin (?) and she accidentally sang the second verse before the first, which didn’t make any sense because since you can’t have the baby, THEN be still pregnant. She laughed, hoping that all the five people who listened to her that day didn’t notice. “Shasta” was a nice upbeat number and I really loved the piano line.
At this point, she introduced one of her good friends, singer-songwriter Kyler England. I think they met on tour (forgot the whole story) but Kyler once had to sing in Vienna’s place for a performance since Vienna got sick and lost her voice…Kyler said it was the scariest gig she had ever done. Vienna started playing a piece with a beautiful intro of notes building up like some…cascade…this song was also from Inland Territory, and it’s my favorite song of hers now – “Antebellum”. Kyler England sang the short solo part near the end “You’ll go home, I’ll stay here” and it was especially beautiful when Vienna overlapped with “I know our antebellum innocence…” The duo performed one of Kyler’s songs next – “Lay it On Me”, with Kyler on lead vocals and acoustic guitar and Vienna playing piano and doing harmonies. It was another emotional performance and probably one of my favorite in the entire night. I wish they’d record a version like that~
The next one had an interesting setup process – I finally realized why Vienna needed two microphones. One of them was attached to this device called a looper, which was used to record sound and then play it back in loops (think Imogen Heap in her live of Hide and Seek). She breathed/huffed a rhythmic pattern and then asked the audience to sing a note, which she recorded. Then slowly she recorded her own harmonies into the mic, and played the loop back to check. The song that called for all this was the haunting, wintry “The Last Snowfall”. One of the most unique and one of my favorites of the night. Vienna played “Homecoming” next since it was an audience request. I love her lower range in this song, but I found this one a bit dull – it was pretty, but just her typical piano ballad stuff. I did like her sparse live with only piano, but I think “Homecoming” would have done better in its original arrangement.
Vienna called her next pair of songs her requisite depressing songs for a performance…you know, you’ve always gotta have those, haha…she covered Richard Ashcroft’s “The Drugs Don’t Work”. Her rendition was gentler than the original, but still pretty spooky. When Vienna stood up from the piano and went to the mic stand on the other side of the stage (it was used by Kyler during the songs she sang on), I knew what she was going to do. She sang “Passage”, an a capella song from the point of view of a girl who died in a car crash. This was the highlight of the entire live, in my opinion. The emotion was overwhelming yet very genuine and she just held the entire room spellbound throughout the song. The silence that surrounded us when she performed just made me feel as if I could hear this girl’s spirit whispering in my ear about what happened.
Kyler England returned to do harmonies for the next two songs – “City Hall” and “Harbor”. I’d never heard the former before, but it was hopeful song about a marriage at city hall. The best part was the chorus with the “oh, oh, oh…” “Harbor” was an old favorite (before this live, I was mainly familiar with Vienna Teng’s first two albums) of mine and I was tempted to sing along, but then I’d only ruin it XD. Kyler’s backing vocals added this entirely new dimension to it. I swear, I really want them to do a Vienna x Kyler collab album where they sing on each other’s songs…
And then we had another a capella – although this one also called for the audience’s clapping and hollering and Vienna’s stomping. This was “Grandmother Song”, about the whole older Asian generation’s disapproval of music careers, something I totally identified with since my parents and my friends’ parents are all like that. It was also a bit of a feminist song, since it did say that women had to do more than be wives – they had to learn to be independent. Double points from me :) Vienna then decided to close with “Soon Love Soon”, a song about peace, and this called for the audience to sing the repeating “Soon love soon” and “We will be as one god/And we will be as one people.”
There was a huge bout of cheering and clapping after Vienna stepped off the stage and then the audience called her and Kyler back for an encore. People started putting forward requests and I remember Vienna considering one, but she laughed and said it would be a train wreck since she wasn’t really in practice for that song. Seeing my chance, I yelled “The Tower”! and she smiled, saying she was actually thinking about that. I was really excited, and I think I almost died from the epic awesome that was the Vienna & Kyler rendition of “The Tower”. A wonderful way to end the night~
Afterwards, people lined up to take photos with/talk to Vienna on the way out…I asked her about the looper (we also talked a bit about Imogen Heap’s use of it~) and then I told her the first time I heard one of her songs (it was “Lullabye for a Stormy Night” and figure skater Arakawa Shizuka used it for one of her performances). I told her that I used to listen to it when I had trouble falling asleep due to stress…and she was recounting her story about writing that song during high school when she had a paper due and didn’t want to do it (it was actually during a heavy rain and the next morning, her school was flooded so she didn’t have to turn it in anyways…XD). Since my dad was coming to get me soon and I didn’t want to hold up the line, I bought a copy of Waking Hour (I would have gotten Warm Strangers since I like the songs better but I chose her first album for nostalgic reasons) and Vienna signed it. And she gave me a hug on the way out <3
Haha, fangirl much? :P
But yes, that will be all for now~ I hope to post more consistently from now on…even though I move in to my apartment in nine days and start school in two weeks…