Monday, January 22, 2007

Mark Eitzel & Ola Podrida @Union Hall, Jan. 19th

On Friday, I met up with Shana to check out the new-ish venue, Union Hall, which features bocce ball courts on the main floor, and a teeny room (1/2 the size of the Mercury Lounge, maybe?) in the basement for gigs. The stage area was decorated simply, kinda like someone's antique living room inviting us for a fireside chat.

Tonight's headliner was the charming and sarky
Mark Eitzel, who is/was the lead singer from American Music Club. I confess I knew very little going into the gig, except for a few listens of songs from cds my ex had lent me a long time ago. I probably ought to return them at some point...

Anyway, it was just Mark Eitzel and his acoustic guitar. He proved to be a funny solo man, telling rambly tales that set up and ran straight into his songs, which were not that different from his conversations. His songs have a stream of consciousness to them, generally foregoing any repetition of chorus or lines found in traditional song structure. His guitar strumming did not shift the focus away from his words; the melodies served as background as he sang-talked his way through his stories, which he admitted often had to do with whores. He was particularly hysterical during a rough cover of "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead, probably done in anticipation of his participation in the American Beauty Project that weekend.

Here's an AMC song he sang -- "Johnny Mathis' Feet" -- during which he interrupted himself and talked about being an opener for acts such as Bob Mould and Everything But the Girl:

I videoed him singing another classic AMC song, "Jenny." Great fun, seeing Mark Eitzel live. I can't imagine him in a venue larger than the Bowery Ballroom, but maybe with a backing band and some electric guitars, it'd feel different.

The opener for the evening was a band named Ola Podrida. They were the main reason why Shana suggested coming out to Union Hall that night. They're a new band from Brooklyn by way of Austin, or something like that. They had a gentle rambling sound (words like lush and breathy come to mind) that reminded me a lot of the Iron & Wine/Calexico show I saw a little over a year ago at Webster Hall, which was nice, but didn't blow my mind away. Perhaps underwhelming is the word I'm looking for? It's always tricky in the acoustic context, I guess...

They were quiet and pretty, and I was really happy I was able to sit on the floor for their set. Anyway, here's a song by them that I think is called "Day at the Beach" (my memory is shot):

All in all, I kinda feel like Ola Podrida might be a band I'll be happy to stumble across on my iPod on shuffle, but probably won't be listening to a whole album at a time...

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