24 November, 2008

Jill Sobule and Melissa Ferrick at The Triple Door, Seattle

The Triple Door is probably the most upscale place in Seattle that one can see a "rock show". It's located at the corner of 3rd and Union, and "belongs" to the restaurant Wild Ginger, at least as far as I understand it. It's a theater, more than a rock club, to be certain. In fact, I should probably say it is a theatre, not a theater, just because that's what I should say.

So, tonight was "lesbian folk night" at the Triple Door. And I say that in the best possible way. Melissa Ferrick hails from the Berklee College of Music, in Boston, much like some other well known artists, including Juliana Hatfield, Donald Fagan (Steely Dan), Melissa Etheridge, Aimee Mann, Branford Marsalis, Steve Vai, and others. Jill Sobule did not go to the Berklee College of Music, but was the shining star in tonight's bill.

My reason for attending tonight's show was my long standing love of all things Jill. She is an incredibly inspirational lyricist, writing songs about a plethora of topics ranging from religion, to politics, to shoe stores, to shoes, to statutory rape, sexuality, drugs, wrestling, the death penalty, war, popularity, depression, anti-depression, with a healthy salting and peppering of love and relationships, Jill-style.

As usual, Jill delivered, with sparkling intense vocals, tasteful guitar parts (on her trusty mini-acoustic), and engaging stories, not to mention a smattering of over-the-top distorted guitar solos (this time on her brand new "Big Muff" pedal, of which she was quite proud).

The one regret of Jill's set is that it was not longer. Seems she only got about 45 minutes, but maybe it was longer. I am not sure. Also, because of the double-bill with Melissa Ferrick, and the high density of lesbian audience, Jill did slant her set list a bit lopsidedly toward the gender-related subject matter. While those are certainly good songs, I felt that it narrowed her a little bit, compared to sets she's done on other occasions (for instance, with she played with Eliza Gilkyson a number of years ago in Seattle).

Melissa Ferrick, of whom I knew absolutely nothing prior to the show, put on a technically adept, musically moving, if lyrically trite, performance. She gets spectacular sounds out of her acoustic, and she has an amazing right hand. Many of her songs included impressive intricate riffs that definitely showcased her musical ability. And her vocal skills are equally impressive, with explosive dynamics, and a smooth, yet powerful voice.

But... again... those lyrics. She's a singer-songwriter, and many of her songs are about love, loss, self-discovery, introspection. But she only rarely said anything in a way that made me feel like she had something new to say. And that made me a bit sad. I hesitate to call it a "waste" of a great voice, because I absolutely enjoyed her tones, but I feel like it was just a lot of bubble gum and Kool-Aid to feed into mainstream garden variety lesbian angst. I also felt there was just a smidge of disingenuousness about her. On the one hand, she took the time to talk about how wonderful her childhood was, and how accepting her parents were. But on the other hand, she rambled self-indulgently about her failed relationships, serial monogamies, substance abuse, recovery, therapy, and general fucked-up-ness, in a way that contradicted the rosy picture she painted of her past.

Perhaps this is not atypical, and I certainly do appreciate when people wear their hearts on their sleeves. But I felt that her show almost felt a bit like a front for a possible hook-up with an "audience member of the night" who falls sucker to her vulnerability, and availability.

So, who knows. I could, and probably do have it all wrong here.

Melissa Ferrick's voice had moments of sounding like another famous (lesbian) Melissa (actually, probably technically superior). And her guitar playing had moments of Ani DiFranco.

If only she had something more original to say.

In the end, tonight's show left me wishing for more Jill, better lyrics from Melissa, and for the two women sitting behind us to shut the fuck up, so that I could enjoy some special, mellow moments.

1 comment:

  1. re: the gals talking... I was at a Damien Rice concert at Chateau Ste. Michelle and two idiot girls were jabbering away during one of his most heart wrenching and quiet songs. (No band, just him, his guitar and his aching heart.) It was the first time I had ever heard this song (The Professor) and I was incredibly moved... but those girls...! arrgh! I lost it! I turned around and screamed "Shut the fuck up!" Felt SO good. People around me thanked me with their eyes and smiles. ahhhhh...