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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Concert Time! Sia

Hey all,

Boy, it really feels like its been a while since I sat down to blog. I have been struggling with a slight cold and a heavy work week, but the real culprit has been searching for inspiration. I'm totally ready to do the next Flash Fiction chapter of Dead Sun, but I like to break the blog posts up in between just to give the blog a little symmetry. This is usually a good point for a me to run a Word Balloon or a Rewind post, but I already did that this month! Fortunately, I got the opportunity to go to a concert on Tuesday night and I had a really great time.

We headed down to the Marquee Theater, the go to place in Phoenix for any not stadium style concerts. It's very much a locale for close knit shows with a small seating area at the back of the ballroom, and a bigger open pit style place in front of the stage. I've seen a lot of concerts there and I prefer it to the bigger stadiums for that intimate feel. Watching Jenny Lewis there last year made it feel almost like she was singing right to me we were so close. Tuesday I joined my friend Autumn and caught the Sia show with her, Sia being one of her favorite singers.

Sia is an Australian born singer who over the past few years has started really ear marking her place in music. She has has her music appear in shows like Private Practice, Six Feet Under, and Dollhouse. Her biggest hit, Breathe Me, has had significant radio play and I was quite surprised as someone not familiar with her work before hand, just how much of her music I did recognize and liked. She has a new album coming out next month, a bit of a change from her older music. Her early albums are very much a pop infused blues jazz sound, while the songs she played off of her upcoming album, We Are Born, featured a catchier beat, almost like pop jazz dance music. Still in the same ball park, but with a hint of more dance pop than before. You could almost see the influence working with Christina Aguilera on her new album had on Sia. It felt a little more mainstream, but not so much that she left her vocal roots.

Admittedly I did some music research to familiarize myself a little more with her music prior to the concert, and more so now in the days post concert. In truth I find that her style of music is really more in line with the musicians that I have started listening to over the past year, like Jenny Lewis, Feist, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, so I can honestly say I was pretty happy to be asked to go.

As for the concert itself, opening for Sia was a band called Body Language. A four piece act, they had a very pop reggae sound, They were a quartet comprised of an Asian guy on drums, a white hipster guy on keyboard, a white emo guy on synthesizer and keyboard, and an African American lady on the xylophone. She was the main vocalist, though both keyboardists spent significant time on vocals as well. I thought they did a good job warming the crowd up for the performance, despite the very short set they did. They only played about 30 minutes but I was impressed with the energy and enthusiasm they brought to the show. They really got into the performance and I think the impact from being on a national tour really was a very new feeling to the group.

Sia came on about 9pm and was very warm, funny, and open about everything. She was still recovering from a sore throat and early on in the performance she had trouble hitting the high notes, you could actually hear her voice give out on her. I will say this, by the end of the night she was hitting those higher keys pretty consistently, having warmed her voice up enough. She played a nice mix of material off her new album as well as stuff off of her earlier releases. I particularity enjoyed the songs Be Good to Me, which seemed a lot breathier and intimate versus the album version. She also played several of her new songs, such as The Fight, Clap Your Hands, and Bring Night On, all very much representing that poppy catchy sound. She ended the set with her biggest hit, Breathe Me, which was I thought her most powerful performance of teh night. Her voice troubles were non existent as she performed a really soulful rendition of the song. Very Emotional.

A few other notes on the show. I have to comment on the stage setting. It was kind of a weird collage of primary colors, red, green, blue, yellows, in a mixture of wrapping paper motifs surrounded by countless amounts of knitting. Literally every instrument, mic stand, guitar strap, amplifier, and set piece was covered in a array of knitted cozies and blankets. It was kind of incredible actually. It was like a weird explosion of color and kitsch, yet very fitting for Sia's personality. The only picture I managed to grab, and not a very good one at that, was of the stage just before Sia came out, before my battery died. I also thought her use of props were pretty cool, wearing a menagerie of different items, from a mechanical set of circular wings that shot out bubbles, to another set up that gave her a sort of halo, she was very interactive in her performance.

I think perhaps my favorite part of the show was how Sia interacted with the audience. She had a very infectious laugh and really encouraged audience participation and heckling. The times in-between songs were rally an opportunity for her to chat with her fans, it made her feel very approachable and down to Earth. She was very funny, giving as good as she got during the course of the show, making jokes on everything from vagina's and her period, to the set choices that they had made. It was a really refreshing take from an artist with a very different feel than I have normally been exposed to.

I had a great time and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to go. I really have to thank Autumn for inviting me to go. I love going to concerts and I did not attend that many last year. All in all my experience at the Sia show was awesome and I am really enjoying finding a brand new musician for me to learn more about. It has sort of lit a fire under me to try to see more live music. I'm going to have to see what I can do about that. If you haven't checked out Sia, start with Be Good To Me or Breathe Me, both excellent tracks. Thanks for reading!

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