Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sharon van Etten at the Cradle

SVE came to Carrboro last night, the second time this year, this time at least I was up on it and was there. Good show.

About her. The striking thing was the contrast between her singing/voice and persona and her speaking/bandleading one. She sings with great range, great deep tones and tremendous resonance, laying it all out there. When she speaks, she's a somewhat gawkish young lady, almost a little girl voice. She's not used to commanding the stage, being a rock star, hasn't mastered the patter with the audience so she spends a fair amount of time saying how happy she is to be here, how she loves NC, etc. Not that I'm faulting her, I think building the persona that can fake rapport with a big room of people you don't know is hard. I had always liked the way she makes a lot of eye contact with Heather Broderick when she sings, thinking that it added depth. After watching the show, I think what it's really about is that she's shy and that Heather, and her other bandmates, are people she knows and is comfortable with. In fact, I think that's one reason why people in all bands look at each other. I kinda remember that from Unity Rockers days.

Overall, she sounded great, I'm very happy I went, but I would've loved to have heard more of the acoustic stuff. I think the bass was too far out front in the mix, sometimes drowning out her voice and her interplay with Heather which is, for me, the heart of the matter. The drummer was surprisingly good and entertaining, more front and center than I would have suspected, and it was cool that he's a North Carolinian and a Cradle alum. I think they didn't need to do a big distortion fest at the end of one song, but hey, I'm 46, that wasn't for me.

At the end she said she'd be at the merch table if people wanted to stop by.  Part of me wanted to go over there and meet her and Heather, but then I really didn't need to go and be basically flirting with younger women on whom I have slight crushes, given that I'm married. If she wants to know how I feel about her, she can read my blog.

More importantly, I was right at the end of my book and wanted to get home and finish it, and then get in bed at a reasonable hour.

It will be interesting to see where she goes from here. The one new song she played didn't mine new material. Her strength is not just her voice, but her willingness to plumb the depths of the psychic pain of what is absolutely normal young adult romantic stuff. She's doing the autobiographical art that everybody thinks about doing, it's just she's figured out how. If she roams the world doing the same material and going back to the same psychic place, she will probably get stale, which would be a shame. I suspect she'll need to move on to a new life phase to find new challenges. So if it takes some years for another record, that's probably good. But she's gotta ride the wave now to get paid, as she should.

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