The Mansion – Chicago, IL
“Okay, I have two more songs from the children album,” Kimya Dawson told the sitting audience that packed The Mansion, April 14, which introduced her fourteenth song of the 25-song set that was actually cut short by curfew. “Little Monster Babies,” was one of six songs Kimya previewed from the forthcoming, AlphaButt, the children compilation due in August. During the bridge, Kimya asked, “Now Boys and Girls, can you name some more animals…[silence]…seriously?” This three-second flash amidst a show full of memorable moments seemed to sum up Kimya’s career; catching fans off guard and masking powerful, real-life songs among awkward, playful lyrics (“This isn’t a come on so c’mon let’s face it/The cum on your face is really just mayonnaise”).
Kimya played to a young audience, many birthed from the Kimya-heavy Juno soundtrack, who filled the Mansion-which was a great venue and truly a big house-and found their seat on the ground to watch opener, and Kimya husband, Angelo Spencer. Angelo played seated, and began by shhing the audience jokingly. He established himself as a Frenchman, told the audience, “This is what I do,” and then launched into his 35-minute, echo-y and distorted take on the standard finger-plucking anti-folk songs. Angelo’s shouting through a quavering French voice was awesome, especially on his finale, “Costeau,” (one of several MySpace tunes that were performed). The best song of his quality set used a catchy rock riff and showcased his one-man band skills, simultaneously strumming, singing, and managing a two-pedal drumming set-up.
L’Orchideé D’Hawai, the 4-piece French outfit, added a California surf element to masterful instrumentation with song derivations from France, Poland, and Japan. Kimya, Angelo, and L’Orchidee all had a humorous component to their act, but L’Orchidd took care of the fun for the night, and were the only act that the crowd stood up for, danced around to, and clapped along to. Their set blew me away, something I rarely feel with an instrumental-based band, and a phrase I don’t often use, with songs ranging from James Bond espionage tune “Let’s Be Happy,” the triumphant “Angelare,” to the brilliant waltz-y “Smierc Ministra,” a song translated to Death to the Minister.” After their killer performance, a large (and wise) bunch hit the merch table to purchase their new LP, Nobody Beats Me.
The crowd resumed to sitting, and when Kimya entered, fans bowed down to her. Although praising Kimya was lighthearted, something about seeing Kimya Dawson was much more like seeing a celebrity than a typical good band. Kimya was in high spirits, but asked audiences to think good thoughts for her mother, who is going under a serious operation; Kimya played “My Mom” early in the set and throughout the show played several songs with references and lessons from her mother. The Kids album made for a fun medley, but the best part of the set came at the end. Kimya was told that she had two more songs, which Kimya found “physically impossible,” and signaled to audience 5 more songs. She combined two, played “Loose Lips” with L’Orchideé D’Hawai, and closed with her Remember That I Love You highlight, “My Rollercoaster,” that breaks down into Metallica, Willie Nelson, Third-Eye Blind, and Edwin McCain mix. Among other highlights in the warm and incredible night of music were “The Beer,” Being Cool,” “Velvet Rabbit,” (a cover of her brothers’) “Randy Savage,” along with some new ones that should make for a promising next album.
Photos of Kimya Dawson: