Vanessa Carlton Steams Through Ravinia

Vanessa Carlton

I’m sure Chicagoans were unsure about the nights show when those morning storms came rolling in. But luckily it cleared up and ended up being a beautiful but steamy evening. Vanessa is out promoting her new album that comes out next week, Rabbits on The Run. Vanessa opened up the night with “Who’s to say” and “Harmonium”. Vanessa introduced the band and told us how she had been suffering from writers block for a few years until her guitarist Ari helped her breakthrough it. They were working at Vanessa’s home when nothing was coming to them so they decided to go to a pub that was nearby and came up with the song “I Don’t Wanna Be a Bride”. Vanessa’s voice sounded lovely throughout the park, but watching her was a bit disappointing to me. The whole set was pretty mild but it was at “A Thousand Miles” when I was ready for Vanessa to rage a lil bit. Maybe swiftly stand up kicking her piano bench across the stage. Could I get a little dance or groove while she played? Sadly I got nothing. The nights version was much slower compared to her radio release. Other than the few stories she told in between songs she was very “professional” looking while she played. Usually looking forward, not really looking out into the crowd.

Some of the stories she told got me a little lost in translation. Trying to give herself props and comparing a song she wrote when she was 16 , “A Thousand Miles”, to today’s “Get Good” which is dedicated to a friend who was going through a divorce, I didn’t really understand what she was trying to share with us. Or mentioning how she got inspiration for “The Marching Line” by taking her dog for walks at the Hudson River, saying her favorite time to go is when it’s raining and how she likes to wear her boots while it’s raining. I just wasn’t sure where she was going with some of these back stories.

Vanessa recorded Rabbits on the Run at the Real World Studios. She chose the title for the symbolism often depicted by rabbits of ‘time slipping, mind floating’ – which explains the writers block. The album was inspired by Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Vanessa mentioned during the show that “her heart is in the 70’s” so being able to record this album directly to tape was a great accomplishment for her. Rabbits on the Run will hit stores on July 26th.

Set List:
Who’s to Say

Harmonium

Don’t Wanna Be a Bride

Tall Tales

Fair-weather Friend

Dear California

Fools Like Me

A Thousand Miles

Get Good

Hear The Bells

White Houses

London

The Marching Line

Five For Fighting & Vanessa Carlton Stop by Ravinia

Five for Fighting & Vanessa Carlton July 22nd Ravinia

Five For Fighting is best known for their 2001 Grammy Nominated song “Superman” from their platinum certified release America Town off Columbia/Aware Records and “100 Years” off the equally successful follow-up The Battle for Everything.  Their newest and fifth album is Slice, where John is exercising his creative right as an artist.  The band is embarking on a US Summer Tour with a few solo shows from John Ondrasik in the mix.

Check out Five For Fighting at the Ravinia Pavilion with opener Vanessa Carlton. Vanessa recently released her first single “Carousel” off her Rabbits on the Run which drops July 26th.

Tickets are still available and start at $22 for lawn and $45 for reserved seating.

 

 

Five for Fighting
Openers: Vanessa Carlton
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 22/Gates open at 5 p.m.
Where: Ravinia Pavilion
Tickets: $22 Lawn; $45 Reserved
Phone: 847-266-5100
To Purchase Online:
Reserved Seats
Lawn Tickets
Picnic in the Park

 

GRAMMY Soundcheck w/ A Fine Frenzy

A Fine Frenzy
Schubas – Chicago, IL
3/12/08

A Fine Frenzy Schubas

I had the opportunity to sit back and watch A Fine Frenzy run through her soundcheck at Schubas in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. Then I had the chance to sit down with the lovely Alison Sudol and ask her anything my heart desired. Pretty cool, huh? You may be asking yourself how I did this. Well, I am a member of GRAMMY U, which is an organization for college students around the country to be a part of The Recording Academy. We all know the Recording Academy best as being the organization behind the annual GRAMMY Awards. All I have to do is join GRAMMY University while I am student at Columbia College Chicago, and I get to meet up and coming artists such as A Fine Frenzy and have a real discussion about the music industry with an artist living in the biz every day! How cool is that?! Pretty dang cool if you ask me…

A Fine Frenzy Schubas

I honestly had never heard of A Fine Frenzy before seeing her sound check a couple of days ago. All I knew was that one of my favorite bands, Paramore, had posted a blog saying that she (Alison Sudol) was all they were listening to while on tour in Europe. Paramore fans apparently took the band’s advice and checked out A Fine Frenzy’s music that same day Paramore posted their blog entry where they name-dropped her! About 15,000 Paramore fans read that blog and hit up A Fine Frenzy’s site to hear her music and find out what all the buzz was about. Lo and behold, Alison Sudol actually resembles Hayley Williams quite a lot in that she also has the same fire-engine red hair, pale white skin, and delicate bone structure as the leading lady of Paramore.

Back to sound check. I did not know what to expect since I had never heard the music of A Fine Frenzy, but when I saw an old off-white baby grand piano sitting up on stage, I knew I was in for a treat. Being a piano player myself, I could tell I was going to like what I would hear. I couldn’t helping wondering if this new chick on the scene was going to be a mini Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, or even Vanessa Carlton. More indie/folk than alternative/pop/rock, A Fine Frenzy is the perfect soundtrack for any coffeeshop’s background music. During the chatting portion of the afternoon, I was surprised that Alison did not mention any of the above female pianists as influences in her life, music, or career. She did, however, mention that Coldplay is one of her favorite bands and would love to tour, write, and perform with them one day. This did not surprise me since I absolutely love Coldplay too!

Now it is my turn to say “Go check out A Fine Frenzy at www.myspace.com/afinefrenzy or at afinefrenzy.com now!”

Vanessa Carlton – Park West – Chicago

Vanessa Carlton
Park West – Chicago, IL
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vanessa Carlton Park West
This girl gets an A in my grade book! She would have gotten an A+ if she had played two more of my favorite songs from her second album, Harmonium. But alas, she did not play “Annie” or “San Francisco,” much to my disappointment. However, she did play all of her hits, even if that only means the three you heard on the radio or saw on VH1: “Ordinary Day,” “White Houses,” and “A Thousand Miles.”

Vanessa Carlton Park West

One thing that I am very big on when it comes to live performances is audience interaction. As an artist and performer, I believe you must acknowledge your fans and the crowd of people that have paid to come and see you play your music. I lose respect for the artist when they do not talk to the fans from the stage in between songs. In Vanessa’s case, she talked SO MUCH in between her songs that I almost wanted her to just shut the hell up and play the next song! Good lord, that girl can ramble and banter on and on and on… But I love her anyway, whether she talks to much or not enough. She performed with only a violinist for the whole show. Some songs she did on her own. Admittedly, the songs sound quite different with only vocals, piano, and violin, but it worked and the music was better than ever.

This was my first time seeing her in concert and I would go to her show again in a heartbeat. I bought her new album from the merch guy after the show because I knew I would not be able to fall asleep that night without listening to all of the new songs I had just heard Vanessa play for the past hour or so. That night was the first time I had heard any of her new songs and I seriously loved every one of them! I got to the venue during the opening act, Graham Colton, and by the time Vanessa came on stage, I was in the second row of people in the general admission “pit” main floor area right in front of the stage. I have both of the songbooks for her first two albums, Be Not Nobody and Harmonium, and have taught myself how to play her songs on the piano. I just HAD to be up in the front to get a good view of her keyboard so I could watch her hands play the same notes I can play. In fact, I was so set on making it to the front row (or as close as I could get) that I told my two friends that came with me to the show that I was “going down in the pit!” and proceeded to ditch them while I walked right on through the crowd. Luckily, these two friends of mine knew how much I loved Vanessa’s music and understood why I had to leave them to go fight my way to the stage!

The first thing that came to mind when she walked on stage was: “Wow! She is freaking tall!” It is beyond me how someone can perform and play the piano while wearing five-inch heels (the pedals!), but Vanessa must be a pro by now. Even without the heels, she must be around 5’9’’ and slender like a ballerina. She was dressed all in black and her famous long black hair was cascading down her back. She performed on her signature piano (YAMAHA – my fav!) with a sort of table cloth thing draped over the top that her grandmother had made for her. Apparently, she never performs without it covering her piano.This show was being filmed for a future DVD and so while the venue allowed cameras to come inside, we all had to turn off our flash when we used them. I took a picture with my flash on – it was an ACCIDENT, I swear! – and got yelled at by a security guard. Then to make matters worse, I was recording “White Houses” on my camera when the SAME security guard totally chastised me in front of all the people standing around me and said if he caught me recording or using flash again, he would take my camera away. Needless to say, I did not turn my camera back on for the rest of the show because I was too scared of that security guy snatching my precious camera away from me.Anyways…Vanessa was totally laid-back, cool, talkative, hyper (too much espresso she claimed) and sweet. She swore (holy shit, fuck, shit) in front of us, but that was okay with me because it made her all the more human. She gets to watch the footage from the video that night and edit it herself so she can cut anything she deems inappropriate – although I wish she would leave everything just the way it was. She admitted to keeping a stash of vodka in her tour bus, which she drinks almost every day with pomegranate and/or cranberry juice to make it red. She made us feel proud of our city when she said she had been spending quite a lot of time in Chicago recently. She was just in town last week or the week before taping a concert special with Stevie Nicks for PBS Soundstage. An artist always gets extra points from me when they talk about Chicago during their live show.