Last night I was reminded that part of the joy of live music is the total experience of it; the who's, the what and the hows of it all. A lot of times I review shows alone, tucked into the crowd just a guy with a camera and a little black book jotting down notes. If I'm lucky though, sometimes I get to share the experience. In the case of Katie Herzig at the Aladdin Theater my wife and, even more special, my 11 year old daughter. It was neat to experience the show through her eyes. I thought she'd explode when after finding out that we weren't stuck in the balcony, were able to find three seats in the second row. I have to say that a certain joy washed over me at her entranced expression as the house lights dimmed and Andrew Bell took the stage for his opening set.
Cheerfully playful with the audience, Andrew Bell had a wonderful performance demeanor. Like a mainland Jack Johnson; but instead of a tropical paradise, Bell's sound was clearly cultivated in a more realistic setting Filled with songs that though lyrically sad still express a very comfortable feel. His set started off the night perfectly. Bell's voice washing over the audience in soft waves, his lyrics mingling with our thoughts as all good stories do. Both solo and backed by members of Kaite Herzig's band,(Jordan Hamlin; guitar, Billy Brimblecom; drums, and Greg Lafollette; bass) . Andrew Bell's opening performance was awesomely executed leaving those of us unfamiliar with him pleasantly impressed.
In perfect Portland fashion the theater filled in significantly during the intermission, providing a fairly good showing for a Sunday night. A testament to the ground work Katie Herzig has laid in her fairly frequent visits to our city. More accustomed to the Doug Fir Lounge, the acoustics of the Aladdin Theater wonderfully embraced her music like an old friend. Aladdin is an odd venue at times so, it's a wonderful treat when an artists sound fits it perfectly.
Coming out of the gates with a untypical flurry, Herzig pushed through her first three songs with a focused conviction that amped up the energy of the room. It was almost as if she had a monkey to get off her back.
Once the initial burst subsided Herzig settled into a consistently relaxed pace that mixed a showing of her songs from the better part of her last two albums. From the soft ache of "I Hurt Too" to the playful energy of the crowd Favorite "Hey Na Na." the set list highlighted the multiple layers of Herzig's music and the amazing skills of the musicians she surrounds herself with. Jordan Hamlin in particular, who during the stent of their set played the better half of a music store. Not to be over looked, each of the band members displayed multiple instrumental skills which allowed for a uniquely flexible and polished performance. In addition to their remarkable skill, it was apparent that this group of people truly enjoyed each others company. Their genuine comradery was apparent in their on stage comfort and playfulness. From the Erythmics/White Stripes cover smash up, an impromptu rap from bassist Greg Lafollette, to Hamlin's NAMM worthy demonstration of her newest effects petal the play of the band showed that in addition to amazing musician these indiviules were wonderfully human as well.
A truly awesome show that even my daughter ranks as her all time favorite concert; a big deal since Kaite Herzig rates higher than the Jonas Brothers.