Monday, October 13, 2008

Laurie Anderson in Dallas, 10/12/08

Laurie Anderson persuaded me to buy season tickets to TITAS. Well, not Laurie personally, but the announcement that she would be performing her new show, Homeland, in Big D. I've seen Anderson at least 4 times, and it's always been a thought-provoking and mind-bending experience. Listening to Laurie Anderson allows me to slip outside my skin and recognize the overall strangeness that is the human experience. I'm convinced that the two best pop-culture windows on human life can be found in Blue Man Group and Laurie Anderson.

Anderson is currently touring her Homeland show, which the NYTimes reviewer thought could bookend her United States I-IV set. Homeland comments on the economy, war, and security in post 9/11 United States, along with a few miscellaneous stories thrown in so things don't get overwhelming.

In one of my favorite sections, Anderson comments that airport security ruins a potentially fun activity -- undressing in public. She does a wonderful job of describing the sadness and tension of people shuffling along with their possessions, attempting to get through security.

I'm very curious about whether the songs in Homeland have shifted over the course of Anderson's multi-month tour. There were several pieces on the scariness of the financial markets that would have seemed fairly prescient when her tour began in March/April. My guess is that some songs have been added in the past few weeks.

Will you enjoy this if you go? That depends on your attitude towards performances. If you attend performances for escapism, then no, probably not. It's like a newscast that also conveys emotional weight. But if you don't mind some socio-political commentary with your entertainment, you'll probably enjoy yourself.

This performance was also notable because Anderson seems to be singing more. Most of the Anderson shows I've attended in the past have focused on the storytelling, which I love. This performance seemed to be about a 50/50 split between singing and storytelling. The music isn't quite as energetic and bouncy as Strange Angels -era Anderson -- it's much more about atmospherics and synth washes.

Another major change from past performances -- the "Voice of Authority," Anderson's voice changer that makes her sound a bit like Walter Cronkite. Previously, the "Voice of Authority" has projected just that -- unflinching authority, occasionally questioning human motives and behaviors, but always dispassionate. But in Homeland, the "Voice of Authority" shows fear. In saying "There's trouble down at the mine," Anderson was implying that conditions in the U.S. are extremely dangerous, but that we're all just going about business as usual. Personally, I found it scary that after all the years of supreme confidence and detachment, the "Voice" cracked...

There were no projected visuals this time around, unlike past multi-media tour-de-force performances. The staging was simple, with candles on the floor and low-hanging lightbulbs just above the stage. Anderson stayed behind her keyboards for most of the performance, understandably, because the stage would have been difficult to navigate.

Lou Reed joined the ensemble for the final three songs of the performance, contributing vocals and guitar to a song seemingly titled "Lost Art of Conversation" (see the YouTube clip at the end of the post). After two standing ovations, Anderson came out and performed a solo violin piece for the encore. The violin was patched through the keyboard, so it had some effects running on top of the violin sound, but still allowed the gorgeous violin tone to come through.

All in all, a great show, and very thought-provoking, as Anderson shows usually are. As I mentioned earlier, I would have preferred more stories, but it was also nice to see a different sort of show from Anderson.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One Fine "Day"

So. Good.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Excuse me, sorry, but I'm approaching sheer giddiness right now...

Life is good... Life is very good...

Back From ACL

The crowds: Awful
The dust: Rough
The weather: Better than usual
Vampire Weekend: Pleasant, not amazing
The best: David Byrne

The second best: Spiritualized