Monday, February 1, 2010
Sharon van Etten, Damon and Naomi and Kurihara
So, I got off my winter-ized lazy ass yesterday and hied me down to Boston, mostly to see Sharon Van Etten sing finally, live and in person. She was playing a show at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, which was mostly a Damon & Naomi Show, celebrating the release of Naomi Yang's tour diary film Song To the Siren. This was a record of D&Y's eight years ago tour with Michio Kurihara, supporting the Damon & Naomi and Ghost album, so for this retrospective moment, they brought back Kurihara. Actually, the show went like this:
Q&A with the head of the film department at Harvard tossing kind of softball questions, if you ask me.
Damon & Naomi and Ghost
The video was okay -- it's a nice theater and a good place to see almost anything -- but the Q&A made it plain that they'd left most of the interesting parts out. Like, okay, brief footage of a silly national television show in Spain telegraphed the fact that they had canceled an actual live show with paying customers so as to make TV, and the promoter was so mad at them that he didn't pay them for the remaining week of shows in Spain. Not only that, he was calling venues ahead of time to tell them that Damon & Naomi had cancelled, so when they showed up, no one was expecting them and they had some explaining to do.
So, anyway, this may have been implied in the film, but I didn't get any of it and neither would you. But D&Y told another story about this whole incident which made me decide never, under any circumstances, to ever interview them. (Except for a little email exchange for the story I wrote about Sharon, which was already done anyway and MAY NOT BE THE SLIGHTEST BIT TRUE!!!)
The story is that to commemorate the incident of skipping a show in San Sebastian Spain in order to be on some cheesy TV show, Damon & Naomi and Kurihara came home and recorded all of their material in their home studio and called it Damon & Naomi Live at San Sebastian. As a joke. They played it for Sub Pop, their label at the time, and Sub Pop liked it and decided to release it as an actual live album, with audience noises intercut from a bootleg. And when it came time to promote the album, it was promoted as an actual live album. Damon recalled the first interview they did for the album, and the journo asked them, "What was that night like?" And they flailed around for a while, because of course, there was no night and who knows what it was actually like. But the point is, they never admitted that it wasn't a live album and apparently none of the reporters were diligent enough to check the tour dates and see that it had been cancelled.
The show afterwards was very beautiful, and Sharon is just as heartbreaking in person as she is on record, though only on stage. Off it, she seems perfectly normal and very nice and well-adjusted. So there.
Anyway, there will be a nice long piece about her in Blurt at some point.