10/26/05 - Louisville, KY, Bomhard Theater

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10/26/05 - Louisville, KY, Bomhard Theater

Post  Cokelike on Sat 4 Aug - 7:52


10/26/05 - Louisville, KY, Bomhard Theater

This was the final date of the twelve date midwest tour. After this, Chan heads to Europe to play at least 3 shows and 2 radio sessions, these are among her last performances of the year.

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Tonight, it was my pleasure to catch Cat Power in Louisville at the Bomhard Theatre. If you have not been to the 619 seat Bomhard, it is part of the megalopolis Kentucky Center which houses 4 halls and/or theatres, holographic Michelob Light advertisements (think baseball games), and more corporate art than you can shake your finger at. The theatre and stage itself were pretty low key with a black backdrop, a piano, a chair, and a few amps onstage for Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, and her opening acts: Dave Pajo and some guy who said modern music is shit but Cat Power is one of the 4 or 5 best modern musicians. That phrase alone is reason not to remember his name.

Anyway, on to the two most important aspects- the crowd and the music. The last time I saw Cat Power was in Atlanta in 2000 and it was a nightmare: loud people at the bar, her barely audible voice, many apologies, and not one finished song in the set. The crowd back then was “indier” and/or “punkier” – take your pick. This new crowd was much, much different. Probably because the venue was a nice, safe theatre- the old people and fashionistas were out in droves. I likened this crowd to the last steps of neighborhood gentrification: first the punks move in, drive up prices, force the ethnic minorities out, set up their “hip shops” (the 2000 show in Atl), then the boutiques move in, the place cleans up, the punks move on, the trendy fashions move in next to the boutiques, and poof- you have a nice, friendly white area (the 2006 show in Louisville). Anyway, on to the music…

I hate to say this but Dave Pajo completely sucked. If you are a Slint/Papa M fan then you can try to recuperate his performance anyway you like. I generally like voices that people would consider poor singing voices; I enjoy the idiosyncrasy. But his voice was so bad and his lyrics so generally annoying (”War is dead” over and over again) that I just could not get into it. To top it off he had a song about Mary and the baby Jesus, and I hate to break it to everyone, but Jesus cannot both be the reason for the season and the ultimate rebel. It just doesn’t work.

Cat Power, on the other hand, was simply amazing. Her voice was rich, full, and sounded so much like it does on CD that I was tempted to think she was pulling the ol’ Milli Vanilli/Ashlee Simpson on us. It was just her onstage with a basic set up: guitar or piano. She would play three or so consecutive songs on the guitar without stopping and then transition to the piano. I guess it is really hard to describe when things are just going well: musical notes are sliding seamlessly between vocals, nothing is forced. . . the perfect concoction of minimalism. This worked magically . . . uh. . . for about 3/4ths of the set, and then, true to form, the bottom just dropped out. One bad note, one missed beat, and it was all downhill from there. . . unfinished songs, apologies, nervous energy galore. She morphed into the Cat Power that so many have come to know and love. The amusing thing is that her anxiety and mistakes are endearing; they make the crowd cheer her along and like her all-the-more. But I wonder, as her popularity continues to grow, if that will fly with an audience that doesn’t know or care about her history. Plenty of the older people simply got up and walked out once she hit Anxiety Central. But, for now – for the most part – her fans were right there with her. The whole evening ending on, “Ok, so like thanks for coming, ok, so fuck it, whatever” as she walked off the stage to genuine goodwill and applause.

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Cokelike

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