Forever Tango – These guys are pretty good. Buuuuuut, not amazing. The problem, I think, is that you can only watch Tango for so long. And I really like tango, it’s one of the only dances I’ve danced, so that makes you like something more. And in small pieces, the stuff they did was amazing. Crazy ass flips, cool little moves, high energy, very skilled, great dancing. I don’t want to say I didn’t like it, I did like it. But I think it’s just fundamentally hard to do one kind of dance for 2 hours and make it stay interesting. The musicians were really good. I didn’t love the singer, but it wasn’t his fault, he was skilled, I just don’t like the style much. I’m sad, I don’t think I’ll go to this one next year, I’d rather see 3 tango dances, not 10.
National Dance Company of Columbia – Oooooo, now that is bad ass. These guys were fucking fantastic. They opened with a swirly dress and guys-in-hats dance. It was very much like the Ballet Folklorico Tapatio we saw a few weeks ago. Nothing mind blowing, but nice. Then they just went nuts with this tribal dance. They had little fake statues on stage and did all this very cool dancing. Their outfits – yikes. Basically everyone was wearing thongs and bras on the women. Butts galore, was kind of arresting, but it felt very appropriate. Side note – I do have a bit of american guilt that I might just be looking at these people from another culture and finding what they do so cool. There’s a chance that it’s exploitive of the culture in a way I don’t understand. Or hell, it could not even be the culture, they could just be tricking my dumb ass. But I’ll continue on the assumption that none of that is true. They did another hat dance, then this inSANE african-inspired stuff. I normally dislike dancing that seems like people just throwing themselves around. African/tribal dance often seems like that to me, sadly. But holy hell these guys were good. It didn’t seem random, it was crazy flailing to a BEAT. It was really rather astonishing what these dancers did, I mean, that has got to hurt a lot. They all had little poofy things on their butts (even the dudes) in this one, and they could manipulate the poofs more accurately than I can my hands! It was astonishing. The second half of the night wasn’t as good, for me. There was a very cool sword dance (again, like the Tapatio folks). There was a (maybe?) samba type dance. Two weird dances, one with chicita banana type outfits, and one with outfits that looked dutch, that I didn’t like so much. They ended with a salsa that was pretty cool. They had a rapper-kindof guy singing during one song that was pretty great (I like spanish rap a lot in small doses) and another song they had us all up on our feet “dancing” (wiggling randomly) and singing along to. Overall it was a lot of fun, totally worth going to. I’ll certainly be there if they come next year.
Jonothan Coulton – JC was actually the opener for TMBG (next), but he deserves his own entry. CUZ HE’S AWESOME. He didn’t have a very long set. But he opened with code monkey, he did Still Alive (!), he did shop vac, he did the pluto song, and a few others I didn’t know. Actually I don’t know much of his music, I have to go buy it now. I just like him in principle. Also, he did Good Morning Tucson, which was awesome and I bought a t-shirt (yeah, I bought a band t-shirt, first time ever, ok?). He closed with Re: Your Brains, and I could have gone home then.
They Might Be Giants – But, then these guys came on stage. Turns out, I don’t know any TMBG songs! I mean, I know particle man, which they did. And the istanbul song, which they did. But that’s it, not a single other one. But despite that, it was, as I had hoped it would be, a really fun show. A lot of audience participation – half the crowd chanting “people”, half chanting “apes”. We (apes) lost that one, sadly. A crazy ass back-stage sock puppet show (complete with Ironman by Black Sabbath, which was great). Fun stories, fun banter, fun everything. Admittedly, the main guy, the piano guy, seemed like he didn’t really want to be there. But other than that it was a lot of fun. Super good show.
Itzhak Perlman – So this guy is the yo yo ma of violins. I say that because yo yo ma is the only other classical musician I know, not because it is a particularly apt analogy. Point is, he’s very good, very famous. Apparently getting tickets to see him for $15 was some sort of mind blowing thing. I, of course, don’t disagree for a moment that he’s amazing. Even a plebian like me who has no appreciation for what it takes to play a violin like that, can see that he’s amazing. But of course, at the end of the day he’s playing music that stirs me less than other kinds. The main course was nice, but just nothing much to me. He did a couple Hungarian Dances that I liked. The encore is where it’s at, though. Apparently that’s always true at concerts like this, I didn’t know. But the music was better, and it seemed his playing was even more amazing. He did a couple songs that were so freaking fast my brain could barely comprehend. He did the theme to Shindler’s List that was very pretty. Overall that last stuff was very cool. In the end, I can only be so excited about virtuoso playing of music that’s not my favorite, but it was certainly something to see someone so good at what they do.
The Chieftains – Hey, this was way cool! I had no idea what these guys did. I’m sure I’ve heard songs before, and I must have known it was Irish stuff. But really that’s all I knew. They are doing a 50 year anniversary tour, which is astounding, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. I like Irish music to begin with, and these guys are very good at it. Plus they bring in a lot of other influences (scottish, mexican, bluegrass) and local artists (kids irish dance troupe, some choir I didn’t know, and the 7 pipers band). The one thing I didn’t like was when the harp lady played keyboard and the flute guy played softly. That was very new agey and boring and corny. But everything else was awesome. The jams were awesome, the piping was awesome, the dancing was AWESOME. They did this canadian chair dance thing that was so fucking cool. A scottish lady did this type of singing called “Puirt a Bheul”. It’s this very rhythmic, staccato, fast singing that I guess was used in the place of instruments for dancing when instruments were banned at some time in history. It’s really cool and like nothing I’ve ever heard. All the musicians are really good at their instruments, and the music is just so much fun. Over all, from knowing nothing about these guys, this was awesome and I’m ready to buy at least a couple albums.