Tuesday, February 5, 2008

thao & the get down stay down @ knitting factory tap bar, 2/4/08

hey, remember that we brave bee stings and all record i was talking about last week? by thao and the get down stay down - you must remember it, it just came out on kill rock stars...and, hey, look! it's only four posts down the page! well, if you've forgotten, i really like that album, which is delightfully quirky and irresistibly catchy, and, after the growler's glowing review of her recent london show, i knew i just had to check her (& the get down stay down) out at the knitting factory last night, their first nyc show since the album's release. though death vessel was the headliner, thao was the biggest draw, and i certainly wasn't the only one who was only there for her. opener katie eastburn (of young people) was good without being impressive, her husky voice singing poems over a piano and kick drum. i kinda liked the young people album, but eastburn solo was a little too sedate for my taste; when thao came on, she had to ask the crowd to rise from the floor.

i was really struck by how good a performer thao was, as well as the get down stay down. restrained and nuanced on we brave, thao is engaging and vivacious in person, and her songs were flexible enough to be bent a little. the lazy bluesiness thao affects on the album is totally discarded live, replaced with an obvious burning joy. she wielded her acoustic guitar like a true rock star and clearly enjoyed playing live, a feeling that the audience echoed. "bag of hammers" opened with some badass beatboxing before thao blew the roof off the song, turning the ditty into a straight-up rock song. "travel" took a turn for the best as well, though i think "feet asleep" was the real standout. ironically, album standout "swimming pools" wasn't better live, probably due to the loss of the banjo part, the song's essential crutch. i've always really liked the knitting factory, and the sound last night was as impeccable as ever, thao's voice taking center stage but with everything else mixed perfectly. with a slight bit of reverb, thao's singing filled the room even when she stood back from the mic; there's a beautiful fullness to her voice, slightly husky and rich, that leaves you wanting more (after she closed with "fear and convenience," the crowd begged for one more). thao's nimble fingerwork is impressive as well, but her exuberance was the set's best part. her happiness at being there was tangible, and, while that is by no means the only outstanding part of her act, was alone rewarding enough to make her performance great.

thao & the get down stay down play music hall o' williamsburg with xiu xiu on easter sunday

"feet asleep" (daytrotter session)


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