For the second year in a row, I opted to forgo buffalo wings, chili, Italian subs, nachos and the standard grubfest associated with Superbowl Sunday to see a favorite indie female singer. Whereas last year, I caught Jenny Lewis, this year, I met up with Shana and Andrea to see Chan Marshall aka Cat Power play an acoustic gig at the intimate Hiro Ballroom. This also marked a year that I have known Shana. Hooray for good friends! :)
Anyway, Shana and I had caught Cat Power last summer at Town Hall and she was gorgeous. This time she appeared sans the Memphis Rhythm Band, which supported her on my favorite album of 2006, The Greatest, and played some songs solo on guitar or piano, and other songs with her guitarist, Judah Bauer.
We were eager to catch this gig based on the Town Hall show, as well as on the beauty of the Hiro venue itself. However, little did we realize that the freezing cold would be such an annoyance. While waiting in line outdoors waiting well past the advertised door time of 7pm, a cheery Chan jumped out of a cab around 7:10 and told us to warm up in the lobby or something. Ummm, yeah...
We finally got in and sat on the floor near the front by the stage. Unfortunately, the venue seemed not to be well-heated, and a draft from the main doors came into the room so we spent the entire show huddled in our winter coats. Unreal. You would think the bar would've sold hot sake, but nooooooooooo...
No opener for this show, which I took as a blessing. Chan hit the stage around 9 and played for about 90 minutes. Well, I use the term "played" very loosely. For those of you who haven't experienced a Cat Power concert, she is attention deficit disorder personified. She will tell you little stories and jokes in between her glorious songs. She played some songs only partially. She reminded us about her new drug free outlook on life by playing a song referring to MJB (or Mary J. Blige, whom she credits as inspiring her via an Oprah episode to turn her life around), and joking that Starbucks should have her promote a drink called "Sobrie-Tea." She played songs from all over the place, including her now standard cover of "House of the Rising Sun" and a variation of the Stones' "Satisfaction."
I have to admit, the cold made me feel yucky and impatient, so her rambly erratic style didn't sit well with me tonight. And my ass really hurt from sitting on the floor after all that.
So would we want a polished live show during which she would rip through a set without letting that edginess seep in? Perhaps it's that sense of uneasiness that has me hooked to Cat Power, aside from her aching voice. The feeling that at any given moment, it could all spiral away very quickly, so we should appreciate the good bits, just like life itself in many respects.
Even though I have come home to a nightcap of Theraflu and Zicam (go for the faux Starburst chewy squares), I feel oddly satisfied for having gone tonight instead of sitting through the Superbowl. My head is stuffy and slightly numb (and probably worse off for having exposed myself to the elements), but I guess I am somewhat happy to have witnessed Chan Marshall and her bewitching foibles and moments of brilliance, though they were far greater at Town Hall last summer.
Here is a clip of her singing "Empty Shell" from The Greatest:
And here is "The Moon."