magnetic fields Letter From Olympia

Kicker: Pop music as recital
Header: Letter from Olympia
Bar: The Magnetic Fields, American Analog Set, Pacific Ocean
Sun Aug 16 Capitol Playhouse, Olympia
Byline: by Everett True
Slug: Live Review

Hi Charlotte.
I can't talk long cos I should be working. . . just a note to say that Olympia was super-fine, hanging out at Lois' house at a barbecue with Nikki and Tae and Calvin and Carrie and all the gang, Lois' potato salad kicked ass. . . the show that night was excellent, much more like a recital than a show, with all the Olympian Kids sitting round in awed silence on the floor in the pitch dark watching Stephin Merritt from The Magnetic Fields strut his soulful, solo (OK: duo) stuff, sounding all mellow and fierce like American Music Club's Mark Eitzel (minus the pomp and fake angst), cracking jokes about Tiny Tim and Vic Chesnutt and how all the sensitive, tormented artist types never crack jokes on stage. . .

That was after he'd taken time off in the middle of a sparsely-accompanied song to light a cigarette and admire himself in the wall-length mirror. . . "It occurs to me Vic Chesnutt and Tiny Tim have no sense of humour," he remarked, feedback booming against his deep New York voice. "Humour is very important to the intensity of the show-maybe I should smash some bottles". . .

Oh, I know it doesn't sounds much, but it was a magical moment or three, and all the Olympian Kids clapped and laughed as he sang and strummed his way through pop's classic pantheon in his dark, warm, deep, world-weary voice, augmented only by band-member Claudia on occasional vocals and piano a guitar or two. . . sparse? I'd say. . . halfway through (just after the rich cadences of "Don't Look Back" from last album Get Lost) he relinquished his guitar, one number he was backed only by the click of fingers, and the set ended with a 15 second segment. . .

Earlier, I'd watched aroused and anguished as NYC's Pacific Ocean (a trio, featuring female lead) veered erratically between sweet sonorous silences and unruly NOISE overkill, like a hastily-assembled Low without the deftness of touch. . . earlier, I'd watched drowsy and disinterested as Austin's American Analog Set proved that even with three guitarists and a keyboard-player, you don't necessarily create anything of interest, beyond the mildest of drones. . . but, as I remarked at the time, I can't find it in my heart to be nasty about ANYTHING in Olympia. . .

But why am I telling you all this when I should be working. . . gotta run, love you, bye.

©Everett True 1998.