Whirr2009-04-16
Faun Fables

I went to a rock show! Note: It seems that I'm going to write a lot about the bands I didn't like before writing just a little about the band I did. But there are pictures! Of Nils Frykdahl!

It was a bit of an uneven night, though. For one thing, it's been a super stressful week, and I was extremely tired when I left work. For another thing, I really didn't like either opening band. Azita wasn't bad, and the lead singer / pianist reminded me of Janice, but I'm afraid I found them a bit bland. I feel bad saying it, because she was obviously a skilled pianist, their guitarist was great and also played (I think) the Electric Dobro, &c., but I just didn't get into them.

The other opening band, Werckmeister Harmony showed up half an hour late, played one song, and left. That one song was a fifteen-minute-long freeform noisejazz session. Mind you, I like (some) noise bands, and am kinda considering going to the Deerhoof concert in May. But freeform jazz has the ability to turn anything it touches into the most boring possible representation of that thing. Freeform Jazz Sex, Murder, and Explosions would likely put me to sleep.

I got mad excited when I first arrived, because the stage was set for Werckmeister, and they had their upright surrounded by effects pedals--my kind of music! And hey, if you google the phrase Werckmeister Harmony you get all sorts of awesome hits. If I'd done that before the show I'd have been even more disappointed!.


But it turned out that all of those pedals must have been distortion, delay and reverb pedals, and they were all turned to 11. The guitarist had a similar thing going on, but it was hard to hear either of them because of the third member who was generating white noise from his laptop. Which was also hooked up to reverb and distortion.

I mean, describing it it sounds cool, just my sort of thing, but it was very slow and very static. It had no beat. I could not dance to it. As usual I'm a little convinced that it was too subtle for me--that's actually the problem with a lot of freeform jazz. If I had the knowledge to follow the clever, subtle chord changes and riffs, I'd find it exhilarating. Maybe that's true about Werckmeister, as well, but I don't know. They were far too loud for me to sleep long, but I nodded off several times.

Anyway, all this text and I haven't mentioned Faun Fables, who were really fantastic, and whom I love. This is because their singing is extremely hard to describe and very beautiful, and I don't really know what to say. Dawn McCarthy has an incredible voice, ranging from soft and sweet to hoarse and strong. She can also yodel, and does. She always reminds me of a storybook peasant girl--probably because she wears long dresses, pigtails and a kerchief over her hair.

Nils Frykdahl is her backup vocalist, he also plays guitar and flute, and is an exceptional electric bas player. He has an uncannily deep voice, as well. In addition, out of all of the people who really exist in life, he is the one who (in my opinion) most looks like a satyr. I've no idea about his interest in wine or his sexual practices, but if he took off his boots (which were New Rocks, awesome!) I wouldn't be shocked to see hooves. This is all mostly due to his incredible beard, which is a classic billy goat beard but about five inches long. However, something about his facial mannerisms seem vaguely goatlike as well? Or vaguely godlike? And, thus, God of Goats. He was wearing a leather vest, the aforementioned New Rocks, and a long black dress. Is was awesome.

That's Faun Fables, but last night the entire membership of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum was in the audience, and were frequently invited on stage to perform Faun Fables songs. The drummer and guitarist were both first rate, but Carla Kihlstedt (predictably) blew me away--she's their violinist, so naturally I loved it when she was playing.

And I've still not said anything about what they sound like. I suppose, at this point, that I don't intend to. If I could make that sort of music, I feel that this would be a good way to spend my life. I just wish I had a better understanding of what, precisely, I have to do in order to being to process of learning how to make music like that.


You may click the following images to see larger versions.

Dawn McCarthy, whom I persist in thinking of as "Faun Fables". You know, like her friend Mr. Pink Floyd.

Carla Kihlstedt is ridiculously good and very prolific.

Nils Frykdahl

Nils Frykdahl

Nils Frykdahl
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