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Regina Spektor – Oct. 2nd, 2007
Murat Theater, Indianapolis, IN
My knowledge of the existence of a musician named Regina Spektor music first came about a year ago when one of her songs was on pretty heavy rotation on the new Indiana University student radio FM station, WIUX. Now, instead of hearing the same five CDs that happened to be in my car, I had access to what the kids consider to be cool tunes, pumped into my car stereo with great convenience. As soon as I started listening to this station regularly, there was one song that kept coming on again and again, a song sung by what sounded like a kind of spazzy music school/drama club expatriate. Something about it did it for me, but like many songs that you hear on the radio, sometimes they don’t say who the artist was after the song is over. Sometimes they tell you like 5 songs later, sometimes they don’t tell you at all. I started asking people who seemed like they might know something about an artist like this, I recited a few lines of the song, doing my best imitation despite not really remembering any of the words. The main thing that stood out to me about this song was that she did this little glottal stop one on of her words, singing “contagi-ou-u-u-us” (a trick that I later found out that she employs in some of her other songs as well). Eventually a friend of mine got back with me, posting a video of the song in question as a MySpace comment. “Is this it?” the friend asked. Indeed it was. Jackpot, right?
Later that week, my friend Andrew said that he had been to a concert of a talented young vixen named Regina Spector at the Buskirk-Chumley theater in Bloomington. He said that he was in love, and that he really enjoyed her show, but that he wanted to kick the ass of her opening act. When media mogul Brian Wyrick mentioned that the chance came up to do a review of a Regina Spector show at the Murat Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, I volunteered to cover it, thinking that it would be fun to go to this show with Andrew, since he was a fan, and I kind of was as well.
On the way there, after a bit of calculation, we determined that the opening act at the Indianapolis show was in fact the same guy who had opened for her at her show in Bloomington, a guy whose backing band is an iPod who goes by the name of Only Son (who apparently was at one point the lead guitarist in the Moldy Peaches, although I can only recall one guitar solo from a Moldy Peaches song, and I specifically remember thinking that it was probably supposed to be a joke). When we figured that Only Son must have some extortion deal worked out with Regina Spector in which he is allowed to open up for her on tour for the rest of her life, Andrew sighed and suggested that we try to arrive late enough so that we would not have to see him play.
The piece of paper containing the directions to the Murat had mysteriously disappeared from the back seat of my car on the way there, but I had a general notion of where we were supposed to be going, and we somehow managed to get there and even score some primo parking. We did not arrive late enough, and Only Son was up there, kicking it with his acoustic guitar and iPod, looking completely unexceptional and uninteresting to the hordes of Regina Spektor fans and their guardians. Must be a tough gig. The Regina Spektor demographic seemed to consist of females age 16-24 who were accompanied either by their mothers or their boyfriends. They did not seem to seeing much value in Only Son and his iPod productions.
Earlier that day I had seen my roommate ironing a pair of white pants. He seemed to be getting ready for some big event, although I could not seem to figure out what it might be. As I was telling Andrew about this, I jokingly said “Wouldn’t it be strange if he had some hot date here at the show?” and about two seconds after I said that, I looked over across the crowd, and there he was, in his white-pantsed glory, surrounded by about five women. He too, I guess, counts as one (albeit rogue) member of the Regina Spektor Demographic. It was pretty sweet.
When Regina Spektor finally took the stage, everyone went nuts, and she opened with an a capella number that people really seemed to be eating up. I guess it just goes to show how long it has been since I went to a large musical event of any sort, because the first thing that I noticed when she hit the stage was not so much her, but the insane number of cameras that people were holding above their heads as they took flash photographs that would probably not turn out. There were digital cameras, camera phones, etc. all glowing in the line of sight towards the stage, and it then hit me that “portable electronic devices” (as the airlines like to call them) are the new equivalent of holding up a lighter during a power ballad at a hard rock show in the 80’s, except now it just happens all the time. People were taking pictures pretty much throughout the show, and I couldn’t help but thinking that about 98% of the pictures being taken were going to look absolutely horrible. I should know, I tried to take some myself, and it was a complete disaster. Certainly those camera phone pictures were not going to be much better.
Regina Spektor put on a pretty good show. She was sufficiently entertaining, taking only brief breaks in between songs and keeping the chit-chat and banter to a minimum. She did her famous chair-hitting percussion song, and skirted along through her catalog like only a hyperactive prodigy such as herself really could. There is something so uniquely different about Regina Spektor, and it’s interesting because that unique quality has something to do with a certain high school nerdiness that has carried over into her career as a performer. Her songs are kind of a freshly spazzy answer to the irreverent and personal tone of piano-driven songstresses such as Tori Amos (who will also be playing the Murat later this year), and it is this quirk (which includes her endearingly odd sense of fashion) that is what appeals to so many people. You probably know someone like her, you have probably heard songs that are like hers, but you have never heard anyone pull them off with such crush-inducing confidence and talent, and that I think that is what makes her music special. She’s kind of a nerd, and you don’t really care, because chances are, if you are there, you are too.
After the show, Andrew said that her show in Bloomington a year ago was better because she was making jokes and talking a lot in between songs, and that compared to the time he had seen her in Bloomington, she appeared to just be taking care of business. He also said that there were about 1/10th as many people at her show in Bloomington, and we agreed that the size of the venue might cause a bit of a hindrance in friendly between-song banter. I also later found out from a friend who worked at the pizza place next door to the theater where Regina Spektor played in Bloomington that Ms. Spektor will not eat pizza off of a paper plate, but prefers that it be served on a ceramic plate instead. There’s an interesting bit of trivia for you. Feel free to use that information as you see fit.
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