Friday, August 08, 2008

Vienna Teng, Club Cafe LIve, Pittsburgh, PA August 8 2008

Vienna's concert was opposite the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and a Pittsburgh Steelers Pre-season game at home. Going opposite a Steelers Game in Pittsburgh is death for pretty much any event of any demographic. So turn out was not all that bad, even if lighter then when I've seen her here in the past. The playlist follows, along with some stories Vienna and Alex shared to go with the songs.

Whatever You Want - A shoutout to the TV show Office Space

Blue Caravan - Vienna said this was inspired by mountains driving around Pittsburgh after giving Pittsburgh props as an untalked about wonder. Then she talked about getting lost in Pittsburgh, going through the Liberty Tunnels after missing the turn on Carson St. And after someone in the car has announced the need to go to the bathroom.

Gravity - Vienna plays this one using her thighs as percussion while rubbing her hands to be

In Another Life - Talks about two people who think they knew each other in a former life. Includes West Virginia miners, Chinese Red Guards, and a teenage bride of an ancient warrior. The Red Guards reference also got my wife's attention, as she was part of that (or something like that) as a wee one in China.

1BR/1BA
- The lead in was joking how 'sexy' Alex was in playing the melodica. This featured an bridge off of Simon and Garfunkal 'Cecilia' that everyone clapped along to. One thing about the lead in story, I've always only had this as a fun background piece. Hearing it live after the lead-in story, I heard details I never noticed before. That is probably one of the good aspects of live performances.

Antebellum - I believe this is the collaboration with Alex Wong
Brooklyn Blurs (An Alex Wong song) - Alex has a story about bicycling in New York. He was talking about using bicycling at 4 AM or listening to an iPod on the subway as a way of finding solitude while living amongst the mass of humanity that is New York City. Vienna attempted to accompany, and was promptly informed that 'the other mallet is softer.'

Homecoming - after talking about the Manchester, MI, Riverfolk Festival and the famous Chicken Broil. And cole slaw with 13 secret ingredients, one for each member of the city council. Vienna commented on how friendly everyone in Manchester was and then led into 'Homecoming'
I Don't Feel So Well - The lead into story was about Vienna and Alex taking the Lake Michigan Express (ferry), in between the Manchester Riverfolk Festival and a concert in Wisconsin. And getting sea sick along the way, which was not helped by eating a reuben sandwich while on the ferry.

City Hall - Vienna says this was a story she wanted to tell and finally decided it needed a country feel to it. So she bought and listened to two Dolly Parton albums straight before going in the studio to write this. The last chorus turned into a sing-a-long. I don't know if this was planned, or because so many of us were singing the chorus anyway that Vienna just invited us to join in openly.

Idioteque (Radiohead cover)

Grandmother's Song
- The song recounts advice given by a grandmother to her as of yet unmarried grand-daughter who is a musician. Vienna said she just had a conversation with her grandmother that seemed to touch many of the things that were in this song. My wife laughed so many times during this song as 1. she has a grandmother, 2. She is a musician by profession. 3. She has gone to grad school 4. She is chinese. Just the right demographic.

Encore - Hope on Fire

After the encore Vienna signed CD covers while Alex chatted with people about the various instruments. I told her that we used "Eric's Song" as our first dance song. At which she promptly asked "Did you waltz?" Our reply was, of course, "yes."

There is a lot to say for going to live concerts instead of just listening to recordings. Vienna always shares fun stories. And hearing her play, even with songs I've known for years, different parts of the songs stand out. Much of it is from listening to her stories to frame the songs. The songs deal with real life, and even when the stories are new, the situations in the songs are not unique to her. 1BR/1BA has aspects familiar to anyone starting out in a big city. The story of City Hall is one that has made headlines again not too long ago. Grandmother's song has so many pieces of 'advice' I've heard so many times, usually when I was thinking about very different issues.

What makes Vienna's concert special? Just the humanity of it all. The stories, not just the songs themselves, but the stories that she tells that are more recent, the stories of people that she meets on tour or stories from family. And being able to chat afterwards, and share our own stories and how her songs speak to them, that was a treat as well.
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