Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Last Night: Mirah at Bimbos 365

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 7:26 AM

click to enlarge LIZ HALEY
  • Liz Haley
Mirah
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Bimbos 365
Review By Melissa Baron


Better Than: I mean, what else could you possible have to do on a cold and drizzly Tuesday night?

It's easy to forget that Bimbo's is such a classy venue. You walk through the doors and everything shines in gold and velvet. The bathrooms have vintage tiles, a foot pump flush, and an attendant waiting to hand you two nice, thick paper towels to dry your hands. It always feels like jazz bands or blues singers should play there, yet last night the stage held instead a synthesizer and a screen with a picture of french fries and the word "PEACE" in white block letters, in preparation for the opening act at the Mirah show.

Opener Tender Forever

(aka Melanie Valera)

took the stage playing with her wild, asymmetrical hair. At first the crowd

seemed more inclined to continue circling the room in search of an

open table than to pay attention. As soon as Valera started speaking,

though, everything changed. In her charming French accent she stated that the previous night she'd played in Berkeley, but Bimbo's was an upscale venue and she felt

the need to wear something fancier. From her feet she produced a

knit cape with stripes of brown and green, "made by Value Village." She

seemed comfortable conversing with the audience, and continued to do so

for the rest of the show. In fact, she may have talked more than she

played. Luckily her stories were charismatic and funny,

her delivery spot on. When a woman shouted that she'd like to buy Valera

dinner, the performer replied that the fan could buy her CD and with that money Valera

could buy herself a meal---and then it would be like the girl in the

audience bought her dinner.

Valera's songs were cute and poppy without being irritating. Her voice was

commanding and strong, her songs danceable and sweet. They were the

kind of delightful tunes you'd expect from an artist on Olympia,

Washington's K Records (home to

artists like Kimya Dawson). She played alone, using a synth for vocals.

Later she played a small drum machine that looked somewhat like a Wii

or a vibrator. She explained that they didn't have room for her drums in the van, and that while she liked playing the drum machine, it might be a

little boring for us -- like when you go hang out with friends and watch

them play video games and they never give you the controller.

The

highlight of her set were two celebrity dedications. The first was a

song for Beyonce. Valera lamented that she had attempted to

get in touch with Beyonce, but just wasn't having any luck. As she

started singing, the screen changed to show a series of photoshopped

pictures of Valera and Beyonce together. There was a photo of them "in

the club" dancing together, one of them at the beach, and another of

them together in outer space. Later Valera picked up her ukulele and

covered Justin Timberlake's "My Love." In the middle she stopped for at

least five minutes and told a story about a 55-year-old queer goth

woman she had never met purchasing tickets for both of them to see JT

at the Tacoma Dome. The whole set was lighthearted, chatty and fun.

Unfortunately, the opening act was nearly impossible for Mirah

to follow. After the excitement and personality of Tender Forever,

Mirah's understated, jazzy voice and slow songs were exhausting, almost

boring. Her delicate material makes for astounding recordings and

often for stunning concerts, but by the time she went on at 10 p.m. it felt

difficult to stay awake (especially when her beautiful voice is so calming). She

started to play some of her faster paced and lively songs about halfway into her set, a welcome burst of energy after a series of quiet

ballads. Some of those songs were from a new album released in March on

K Records called (A)spera. Her voice resonated beautifully

through the venue, the acoustics a perfect match for her classically-influenced sylings. The audience seemed thrilled to see her as they

stood attentively in front of the stage. But after the long set of lullabies, we were also ready to go home and go to sleep by the end.

Critic's Notebook



Personal bias: Being from Seattle, I've seen Mirah play many times.

By the way: Tonight they take the show to Santa Barbara.

  • Pin It

About The Author

Melissa Baron

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Third Eye Blind @ The Masonic
    Third Eye Blind performed on Sunday, July 26 at The Masonic to a sold out show with the support of Dashboard Confessional & Ex-Cops. Photographs by Christopher Victorio.
  • Morrissey @ San Jose Events Center
    The last stop for Morrissey serenaded the sold out crowd during his only Northern California date on Saturday, July 25 at the San Jose Events Center. Photographs by Christopher Victorio.