Duncan Sheik and Vienna Teng last weekend

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/08/04 03:00 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/08/04/688270.aspx


It all started on Saturday in the early evening, that show I mentioned in I before E, except after C.... And as is often the case, the meta-show was as interesting as the show itself. :-)

I drove out to pick up Julie, we headed downtown, and found a place to get dinner across the street from the venue. It was a great chance to catch each other up on what was going on at work before the rest of our party that would likely not find this conversation interesting joined us....

Ok, it was getting close to 7:30pm so we crossed the street. It was for a meet and greet with Duncan after the sound check and before the show. We waited outside for Kristin and Tana. In fact we waited until a minute or two after, and then I called. And found myself talking to Kristin's husband -- she had left her mobile at home. Hmmm. So Julie and I decided to go in.

Vienna Teng was setting up to do their sound check, and someone was yelling into their phone pretty loudly. He hung up and then chucked his phone into the wall. Which was amusing since when I asked for Vance (Duncan's manager on the tour), the guy I asked really wanted to make sure that we weren't with the guy who had just chucked his phone across the room into the wall. :-)

So we straightened all that out and Vance came out. I told him why we were here. He had bad news -- Duncan had already left to go to dinner before the show. He had not realized that anyone was coming since he hadn't actually read the email mentioning that "Michael Kaplan + 4" were coming to the show and for a meet & greet. Oops!

No worries, he checked out our bonafides and put our names on the list. And set up the meet & greet for after the show. Which was gonna work better since Kristin and Tana had just arrived and might have missed it had it happened earlier....

Though in the back of my mind I was doing the math -- Doors open at 9pm, Vienna starts 30-60 minutes later with over an hour for her set, half an hour break and then Duncan has a ninety minute set. If all the time is cut short then "after the show" translated to well after midnight.

Suddenly the fact that Cathy couldn't make it was looking okay -- she would have slept through most of it anyway....

So I introduced all the people who did not know each other yet and we listened to Vienna and the sound check for a bit (Kristin's a musician, so for her check what the acoustics might be like is like normal people checking where the restrooms might be). Then with over an hour to kill we decided to head down the street to a bar that was open to get a drink.

The first place we went into, we were making the patrons uncomfortable. I did not notice right away since I did a subconscious cehck to make sure that the women would be sage and then relaxed. Julie didn't notice because she was being Julie. But Kristin and Tana noticed right away that this was actually a gay man's bar, and that the reason the patrons were uncomfortable was because a gimp rolled in with three women and we were all being if not loud than at least not quiet. Obviously the women were safe and I was too, but since we were making people less than comfortable we decided to head down the street to another bar...

So we found a place and Kristin started talking about Red Beer, which I had never heard of but saw the commercials for in the days since then. So we chatted for a bit over the white noise in the bar about all sorts of things from tattoos to the ironic perceived asexuality of gimps to tramp stamps (more on why this is relevant in a bit!) to working at Microsoft to farming to being a musician (Kristin) to almost getting married and reasons for calling it off (Tana and I, though not to each other!) to the fact that Jebin Bruni was playing with Fiona to Red Beer to going to strange cities and seeing musicians while I happened to be there to the fact that I used to work for Julie but then she got promoted until I was working for the person who was working for the person who was working for Julie, and so on. It filled up the time nicely until it was almost 9pm and we decided to head back to Chop Suey.

We got there and were redirected to the will call line, but when we saw it was around the corner I had a chat with the guy outside and they got us in. I think everyone was impressed, kind of like when I got Julie and I up front to see Fiona earlier in the month. It is so seldom that I get to impress women these days, so I decided to enjoy it. We found seats (there were not many there even with the place empty -- an interesting way to force standing room only!) and kept chatting while the venue started to fill slowly.

And then, by 10pm, the show was starting!

Now I'll start by saying that although I owned several of her albums including her most recent one, that I had no idea she was a CS graduate from Stanford who gave it up to pursue her musical passions. It is probably good that I did not know all this simnce my head might have exploded as I sat enchanted by the voice of this amazing singer/songwriter!

From the song she played for the "tech" community in Seattle that was inspired by the movie Office Space (Whatever You Want) to the song about the guy who she had the crush on who turned out to by gay but who (with his boyfriend) picked one of her creations as "their song" (so close!), it is clear that she is just as comfortable chatting between songs as she is playing during them. I swear I didn't notice that she had no guitar player on stage until she was several songs into her set!

Then she talked about how, while writing for the new album, she realized she was basically happy. Which is a terrible way to try to find inspiration for songs. So she imagined herself 10 years later, in the midst of a midlife crisis, and out came "Love Turns 40", which I decided should be dedicated to Julie (whose age everyone in the group knows due to the hard work of Cathy and Martina who are both younger than she is!).

Her voice was incredible, and although the acoustics in the venue were not stellar (something we sort of realized back during the sound check), the performance was. I decided to buy a shirt (so I could symbolically make sure I was giving her something for her efforts!) and to try and get an autograph on her CD. It is hard to explain, it just feels like when someone does an amazing job and I get enjoy it that I should be giving them something for it. :-)

By the way, I noticed that she is going to be back in Seattle on September 29th, opening for Madeline Peyroux at the Moore. Currently it is on both of their websites but not on the Moore's -- I will have to check it out snd see if I can find out what is going on....

In any case, she closed the regular set with a great rendition of her new song "City Hall", complete with her Marika Hughes and Dina Maccabee (her cello and viola players) acting as backup singers with hand gestures to act out the song that just made the whole thing hilarious, and then we settled in to wait for Duncan to start.

Oh, before I forget; her set list:

She did make a brief appearance to sign CDs and dstuff but she had a big line so I decided not to stand in line too. I figured some other time. So the four of us were talking, waiting for Duncan to to start.

ASIDE: Starting during Vienna's set we did notice a guy and two girls in front of us, and one of the girls did indeed have a tramp stamp which for some reason we all found hilarious, especially after we had talked about what is supposedly meant earlier (what did Vince Vaughn say in The Wedding Crashers? Might as well be a bullseye?). But although the strange interactions between these three people were interesting, we didn't really want to be distracted too much by it....

And then by 10:30, Duncan Sheik took the stage. And as always he was fantastic. Julie was I think a bit disappointed that he didn't play "Barely Breathing" because she had that song in her head both before and after the show; it is a long I love as well but we got over it.

There were some funny moments, like when Gerry pulled out the white guitar, and then later Duncan pulled out a black one and Gerry remarked that it was like Spy vs. Spy -- I got the feeling that many people did not understand the reference, but I thought it was pretty funny.

The setlist (this is also from memory, if someone who was there sees a mistake the order they should feel free to comment about it!):

For the encore, I know he did Mr. Chess, but I am drawing a blank on the other one. Either way, it was a great set, and although the venue was not a good as The Triple Door, I have high hopes for next time!

So the show ended at 1:00am, unfortunately Kristin and Tara had to leave early so they didn't get the chance to meet Duncan. But Julie and I went back and had a chance to talk with him and I swear he has got to be the single nicest person in the industry. And so totally hands on with his myspace site and the support he shows for fan recordings. Simply an amazing person, we'll have to figure out something for next time he is in town for Kristin to meet him and do that weird talking thing that only fellow musicians can do....

I didn't ask him to sign my CD; I guess I could have, maybe I should have. I also forgot to ask him about the 'Mark Liberman' thing. And there are other Mark Libermans if you Google-stalk the name, which I am not going to investigate the way Rory might suggest given his luck with Google here. I'm not looking for a soulmate or anything. :-)

Anyway, on the way out we ran into Vienna and I asked her if she would sign my CD (more on this story here). I was really glad this happened since I had sort of sworn off the earlier opportunity with the line. I don't know if that makes me a snob or something, but the line is awkward with the scooter so I think I am tying to avoid all that.

In any case, an awesome show and lots going on around it (i.e. "the meta show"), and sorry it took me so long to post this!


SheikSpeak on 10 Aug 2006 11:06 AM:

If you are a fan of Duncan's, you should check out his fan forum to read other reviews and get more information about his tour, http://www.sheikspeak.com

anandi on 15 Aug 2006 3:35 AM:

Awesome :)

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