Wednesday, December 29, 2010

you could say one recovers

Did you notice anything missing from this blog for the last couple of months? Oh, you didn't realize this banana stand was still in operation? I can't promise the updates will continue at the same clip as before, but for now, I offer an account of the last Jon Brion show of 2010.

Jon Brion, Largo at the Coronet, December 17, 2010: I already made too much noise about commemorations and milestones last year, but I should've saved the fanfare for another 12 months because--drumroll, please--this show marked the true 11th anniversary of my first Jon Brion gig. Yup, 11 years ago to the day, I took my seat at the old shoebox on Fairfax Avenue and summarily had my mind blown. If you search around the Internet, you might even be able to find a recording of the show. Trust me, it's worth downloading!

Arbitrary anniversaries aside, would-be Largo historians and archivists might want to address the bigger development of the last year, when Jon took his show from a weekly residency to a monthly appointment. I'm not the best person to address the topic, as Jon's reduced schedule worked overwhelmingly in my favor. After all, on average, I missed 75 percent of his gigs--which served as a useful salve when I sat out the last couple of months--on the old plan. If a local wants to speak up with any observations on how the new allotments have affected Jon's playing, feel free to comment below.

On this occasion, at least one surprise awaited us: an opening act, a rarity at Jon's show these days. Flanny introduced Garfunkel & Oates, the two-lady musical duo. I catch them all the time on podcasts and the like, and I was delighted to finally see them in person--though a few readers may recall the time we caught half the act at another late-night comedy show the summer before. I suppose you could draw parallels between them and, say, Flight of the Conchords. Heck, I dig 'em both, and it's great to see the pair catching on all over.

Soon after, it was Jon's turn, and he concentrated on his own works. Among the titles, "It Looks Like You" sounded particularly jangly, and "Knock Yourself Out" luxuriated in a long intro. As Jon tuned his guitar after "She's At It Again," one audience member politely but effectively fielded a question regarding the status of Jon's follow-up to Meaningless--an effort Jon had cited a year ago as one of the benefits of his amended performance schedule.

In response, Jon reported that he had put 1.5 weeks into the record before he was drawn away for other work. (By my very rough estimates, that adds up to at least two albums and two movie scores for 2010.) As a consolation, he played "Girl I Knew," which he said would be on that forthcoming album. However, hold your breath at your own risk.

For the video portion of the show, he brought out Andres Segovia and Leon Theremin to lay the groundwork for the amazingly versatile "Stop the World." Jon seems to cobble it together with a paperclip and a rubber band, yet it still sounds like a grand orchestra at work. To close out the originals oeuvre, he almost literally banged out the wordless "Croatia."

It was time to open up the request line, and the calls came in. Jon moved to the vibes for, in order, "Psycho Killer," "You Won't See Me" with our middling vocal contributions, and one line of "Paparazzi," though truth be told, the last one would've gone unrecognized if (1) he hadn't sang the title and (2) I hadn't heard the request myself. "I Believe She's Lying," with the full build, was another request and featured impressive power chords from the 12-string. Finally, "Someone to Watch Over Me" (also culled from the audience shout-outs) concluded the main set in a bluesier though no less grandiose vein than usual.

For the encore, Jon asked for more titles, and they rolled in for a good stretch before he decided to take on the shortest ones. I can't say what time frame he had in mind, but I could hardly complain that he took on a good chunk of "Controversy," followed by snippets of the Velvet Underground, the Beatles (despite his earlier protests), Harry Nilsson, the Kinks, and his own title.

As a nightcap, Jon brought in Leonard Bernstein, while tickling out one of the classic Christmas tunes, one I've heard at least a couple of times before at Largo. I still yap endlessly about the version from four years ago, when Jon and friends performed "The Christmas Song" in the style of Sonic Youth, but the traditional touch is no small matter either. Listening to Jon's dreamy, jazzy take, you could almost forget the typical holiday madness swirling outside.

--Garfunkel & Oates opener
--Ruin My Day
--It Looks Like You
--She's At It Again
--Girl I Knew
--Please Stay Away From Me
--Knock Yourself Out
--Stop the World
--Psycho Killer/You Won't See Me/Paparazzi
--I Believe She's Lying
--Someone to Watch Over Me

--Controversy/Sweet Jane/Rocky Raccoon/Strings That Tie to You/My Old Desk/Waterloo Sunset
--The Christmas Song

See also:
» it's the end of the things you know
» public service announcement
» i'm offering this simple phrase

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