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devil duck


Last night shalmestere and I took the train into Manhattan, had dinner at went to a concert. Not medieval stuff this time, but folkie-WFUV-ish singer-songwriters.

The opening act was a Christina Courtin, whom I'd never heard of (which is usually the idea of opening acts). Watching her was frustrating, like watching somebody drive a Porsche in first gear: she's got a good voice, with power and range, but she spent most of her 45 minutes on stage choking it back to sound like either Ani DiFranco or Minnie Mouse. And she has a strange stage presence: for most of that time she was looking off stage right rather than at the audience, and for a few minutes all I could see was a swirl of hair in front of her face (think Invisigirl from "The Incredibles"). She's got a skilled, flashy acoustic guitarist, whose name I didn't catch.

The headliner was Vienna Teng, who has a lovely, clear alto voice and classical piano training. Her tight ensemble of backup musicians comprised a violinist who sings mezzo-soprano, a cellist who sings baritone, and a percussionist who also plays guitar and sings tenor. She's got an interesting compositional style, influenced as much by Debussy and Kurt Weill as by Radiohead (whom I know from nothing, but she talked about them in between songs, and one of her songs was evidently a cover or a commentary on a Radiohead song); she has a real knack for the emotionally effective use of chromaticism. The biggest crowd-pleaser song of the evening, however, was the musically uncomplicated, country-esque "City Hall", about a couple road-tripping to San Francisco to get married during the few weeks that the Mayor was performing same-sex marriages before the State stomped on him. Most of her songs are less political, more personal. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed it.