Friday, May 9, 2014
Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine
*I finished my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Recertification Portfolio! Back to seeing shows and writing recaps! YAY! I’m in Jersey City for the long weekend visiting my best friend. We rode a carousel and enjoyed the view of NYC from the waterfront. Seeing Book of Mormon tomorrow!*
I’d missed Katie Herzig at Empire two years ago and have been kicking myself ever since. Her albums The Waking Sleep (2011) and Apple Tree (2008) are in regular rotation on my iPod. I went to see The Head and the Heart that same night two years ago instead, and it was a strange, disconnected show. I was so was glad to finally be able to see Katie since she released Walk Through Walls in April and was on tour to support it.
Portland’s Keelan Donovan opened the show had a great voice. He engaged the audience and played guitar and a bit of harmonica. I especially liked the song he wrote for his godson (his sister’s son) on the night of his birth. Keelan is living and playing in Nashville these days.
I’d seen Elizabeth and the Catapult open for Sara Bareilles back in April of 2011 at State Theatre and remembered that I’d liked her and was looking forward to see her again. Elizabeth Ziman’s voice is strong and clear, and her chops on the keys are impressive. I bet she’s classically trained. She used vocal looping to make her sound interesting, and she told us that the band was sick (with food poisoning or the flu, she guessed) and they were down to bare bones with just herself and Dave (?) on drums. I’m not sure he’s even in her band, but he had charisma, too.
Elizabeth sang “Like It Never Happened” that had some harsh language, including, “wish I didn’t give a shit” and then laughed and told us it was funny trying to sing it on NPR. Elizabeth was really engaging—funny and chatty all set long. I liked her silly song about bed bugs that reminded me of the dramatic music you’d hear at the circus. E told us they’d thought they were opening for Katie Herzig the night before in Connecticut but got there and found out they weren’t, so they drove straight to Maine and had a great, full day visiting Portland Headlight, Hot Suppa, Portland Museum of Art, Hot Suppa (again, to pick up more maple syrup lattes), and Eventide to get lobster rolls.
I liked E’s solo cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” with looping effects. Elizabeth really played amazing piano on “You Can Trust Me Now.” I finally Googled her—she went to Berklee. I’m not surprised. She was really talented and had a lot of showmanship, too. She ended her set with her “future top 40 song about Ryan Gosling” called “Ry-ry.” We all chuckled while she sang,“I first saw you in the Mickey Mouse Club when I was 9. And I was in love cause you were so fine. I knew it was only in my mind, in my heart, in my soul–that you could dance, dance, dance, dance—better than Justin Timberlake. This much was true.”Elizabeth was engaging and talented—a great combination.
Katie Herzig and her four person band took the stage. They each played SO MANY INSTRUMENTS—from guitar and bass to ukulele and cello, clarinet, and was that a French horn? Not to mention all of the computer effects they worked with. They had a very full sound and everyone sounded great. I was a little surprised by how little Katie said to the crowd. I think we were a solid ten songs in before she said more than a few sentences to the crowd. I am such a folk music lover that I long for interaction with an artist onstage—I want to hear stories about the songs and banter about what they’re up to on tour. That engagement brings the songs to life for me.
“I Hurt Too” sounded beautiful and was one of my favorite songs of the night. It was followed up by another favorite of the evening, including lush orchestration—“Closest I Get.” Katie eventually did talk a little bit about the relevance of the new album in her life. She talked about the video shoot for “Walk Through Walls” which was filmed in Mexico at poet and artist Edward James’ quirky rainforest estate, Las Pozas. Katie looks downright disturbing in the video and when her dad saw it and said as much, so she showed him videos of Lady Gaga so he’d see it could have been worse. For as much as Katie was quiet during the show, when she did speak, it was personal. She told us that her mom had passed away after the last album came out and she immediately went on tour for a year and a half and wasn’t writing new music. She was inspired by seeing Radiohead and Feist at Bonnaroo to finally write again, so she went back into the studio and “Forgiveness” came to her first—it’s the first song on the new album. I especially liked the lyric “are we building walls or bridges.”
Katie played ukulele on “Wasting Time” and the lyrics are complex–“How do you push away without a shove/It’s easier wasting time than breaking hearts you love.” Katie thanked Keelan and Elizabeth for opening the show and told us that they she and the band also live in Nashville. She introduced her talented, cohesive band to the crowd. I’d enjoyed their solid harmonies all night. She told us about an organization she cares about called Mocha Club, which provides clean water and other resources for people in Africa. She told us that if we signed up to support Mocha Club we could take anything from the merch table we wanted for free. I was so glad to hear “Lost and Found”–that song has power. Katie and the band said goodbye and left the stage.
Everyone came back to the stage for an encore and Katie saw a little girl in the front who had been singing along all night long with her brother and sang “Human Too” for her. I was pumped when I heard the introductory notes play to “Wish You Well.” It’s one of my favorite songs and I was really glad to hear it live. Katie did a little freestyle rap about lobster rolls and mentioned they’d just played live on an episode of Big Morning Buzz with Nick Lachey on VH1. They wrapped the night with “Best Day of Your Life.”
I’m glad I finally got to see Katie Herzig live. Some of her songs have been important to me for years and it was nice to hear them sung in person.