Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Monday: Gotye and Kimbra at the 9:30 Club

I am interrupting my normal blogging schedule to bring you my review of the Gotye concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., on March 22nd. Well, review might be too formal a word, since I have absolutely no credentials to back up my opinion. But I do have an opinion (shocking, I know), so here it is!

First of all, this show sold out ridiculously fast, and since I didn't even know about it until a couple of weeks ago, I paid a lot of money for what should have been a $20 ticket. I have no regrets. Considering the San Francisco show was moved from a small venue akin to the 9:30 Club to an enormous stadium, I'm pretty sure this was the only opportunity I'll ever have to see Gotye perform (at least at a smaller venue). Plus, I'm pretty sure Gotye won't be coming to Yekaterinburg any time soon, so the tickets were worth the money as far as I'm concerned. The fact that the show was amazing certainly helps.

Thanks to D.C. traffic, it took me over an hour to drive to Sarah's house (6 miles, folks), so we didn't arrive to the 9:30 Club until 7 pm, when the doors were supposed to open. The line was already wrapping around the block by then. They let everyone in around 7:30 and Sarah headed straight for the food while I got the best spot I could on the floor. If you've never been to the 9:30 Club (this was my first time), it's basically a big open floor with a narrow balcony wrapping around the theater. "Why would anyone want to be up there?" I recall asking Sarah. Famous last words.

I'll admit that I was a little nervous about the crowd for a Gotye show. I figured it would be lots of hipsters who've been Gotye fans for five years and look down on recent converts like myself. I shouldn't have worried. There were plenty of hipsters, of course, but also a whole lot of preppy Capitol Hill types and a surprising number of middle aged people. I realized I didn't need to worry about my own street cred when the girl next to me admitted that her favorite band was Life House.

Kimbra went on at 8:15. If you've never heard of Kimbra (I hadn't until recently), she's a New Zealand singer/songwriter with an absolutely incredible range. She's very charismatic and physical on stage, and she really knows how to draw the audience in. Her songs are very eclectic - not stuff you can sing along with easily - so I'm not sure if I would like her music as much if I hadn't seen her live, but she's adorable (she was wearing a red floofy dress - very Betsy Johnson-ish - and she has thick black hair with even thicker bangs) and at only 22, unbelievably talented. Her band was equally amazing and it was a great start to the show. Sarah and I had a decent view of the stage and Kimbra's 45-minute performance was fantastic.

Kimbra! Photos courtesy of Sarah

And then the Gilmore Girls showed up and ruined everything.

Let me explain. As soon as Kimbra left the stage, there was a mad rush forward - apparently people who'd been hanging out at the bar during Kimbra wanted to get a good spot to see Gotye. This is just bad concert etiquette. Worse still, a group of about five women decided to plow through the crowd, shoving people aside on their ruthless quest to get as close to Gotye as possible. Sarah and I were right in their line of attack. Their ringleader? A woman who was attending the concert with her daughter and had decided that they had the right to shove anyone aside they wanted, but could then turn around and be horrified when someone dared remark that they were being rude. Of course this woman (who seemed mighty proud that she was taking her teenage daughter to a concert; I think we were expected to be amazed by the fact that she looked so young to have a teenage daughter and that she was clearly an incredibly hip, awesome mom) decided to stand directly in front of me. After bitching to one of the men she'd tried to barrel past that she was shorter than him and therefore deserved to stand in front of him, she had no qualms positioning herself in front of yours truly, and she was about three inches taller than me.

She had also shoved aside a girl who was there by herself and was even shorter than me, and this girl looked pissed, and scrappy. When the annoying mom decided to get herself a drink ten minutes before showtime, I resolved not to let her back in. Apparently the girl in front of me had the same idea, but the mom was bigger and meaner than the two of us, and she got into a shoving match with the little gal next to me.

"What are you doing? I'm with my daughter!" the woman screamed.
"You cut in front of us!" the girl shouted. "We were here first!"
The mom pulled her daughter protectively under her wing. "Don't listen to them, sweetie." Then she turned to me for support.
"Well, we were actually here first and you're taller than us. That's why she's upset," I said. The woman once again told her daughter not to listen and turned around now that Gotye was taking the stage.

The balcony suddenly looked like an absolutely brilliant idea.

For the next hour and fifteen minutes or so, I spent my time dodging right, then left, standing on my tiptoes, ducking down to peer through armpits - anything I could do to see past the mom and her daughter, who were not only be-bopping around like maniacs, but insisted on filming the entire concert on their phones. This of course blocked the view of several people behind them, including a large man who actually shoved the mom in the shoulder and told her to put her camera down. But Mama Gilmore was undeterred. At one point I gave up and started watching the concert on the daughter's camera - it was the only way I could actually see Gotye.

Sarah took the photos, since I couldn't see anything but Gilmore hair.

The concert itself was phenomenal. Gotye sounded exactly like his album, "Making Mirrors," even though he was playing multiple instruments while singing (I personally hate it when musicians sound totally different live than they do on their record). He opened with "Eyes Wide Open" (a song both Jack and I love - for some reason he thinks the lyrics "we walk the plank" are hilarious) and ended with "Bronte," the saddest song ever about a friend's dog dying. I can't help but think of Mattie every time I hear it. Then he disappeared for long enough that I started to wonder if there was going to be an encore before returning to the stage for three more songs.

He also performed a couple of songs not on "Making Mirrors," including "Hearts a Mess," probably his best-known song prior to "Somebody That I Used to Know." Unfortunately, I couldn't actually hear Gotye singing "Somebody," because the entire audience was singing along with him. He did invite the audience to participate in his performance of "Save Me," one of my favorite songs on the album. Even songs that I don't particularly love from "Making Mirrors," including "State of the Art," really came alive thanks to Gotye's performance (along with the amazing animation that played on the stage's backdrop).

Gotye performing "State of the Art"

An image from "State of the Art" on my Gotye shirt (yay!)

After Sarah and I got our T-shirts, we walked back to Sarah's place, reliving our favorite moments from the show and imagining the many different ways we'd like to kill the woman in front of us. In the end, I learned two things from this experience: 1) That I am an even bigger Gotye fan than before, and 2) That a concert is only as good as the moron you're standing behind. Next time I'll be sure to avoid crazy mothers and their teenage daughters. And I'll be wearing heels.


Sarah said...

Definitely a memorable experience. I do feel that my own personal Lorelai deserves more credit though. She took obnoxiousness to new heights by dangling her hair in my face. Eww!

Mara Rae said...

You're right, you didn't get enough credit. But this post was getting out of control - it had to end somewhere!

The Anderson Family said...

love these guys!!!!!