Saturday, January 22, 2005

COLIN MELOY @ the IOTA, Arlington VA

SRO in this small bar to see this indie superstar. I ran into local Bob, guitarist from DT and The Shakes, a defunct DC-based garage band that opened for just about everyone back in the day. IOTA is literally a half-bar / half-restaurant living in the spaces vacated years ago by Billy "Bardo R.I.P." Stewart and his Roratonga Rodeo. You go to dinner on the right side and then pay an admission fee to go over to the other side. The nice thing about this deal is that its first come, first serve. No having to buy scalped tix on Craigs List - downside is you have to arrive early for big acts. There are two bars - the middle bar serving both the restaurant and the gig area. Ambiance is sort of grungey neighborhood bar. Bob described it as his other living room. Upcoming shows include Kings of Convenience, Earlimart and Tommy Stinson.

There was no opening act so a little after 930, the performer ambled onto the stage and opened his set. Having suffered through enough open mike nights, I can attest that Colin Meloy IS a fine acoustic guitarist - switching off between a 12 and 6-string throughout. He is an engaging performer with his faux-shy persona and his sharing of Decemberist trivia (he likes how his keyboardist sometimes says "whooo" quietly to herself between songs and tunes his guitar while standing on his tiptoes) and other stories. Although I couldn't help but contrast him with Sufjan Stevens whom I saw a few months ago. Where Sufjan's songs and stories are deeply rooted in his past and his home, Colin doesn't seem to have existed until he picked up a guitar. All his songs and stories date back only a few years or are imaginary reincarnations of past lives.

He started out with some of his band's songs (including the story behind "Apology Song") which loosened up the somewhat sedate shoulder-to-shoulder crowd a bit, then a few of his Morrissey songs followed by a couple "Side D" songs from his bands' new album (out in March, east coast tour in May) and one or two that WILL be on the album ("Dec 2" & "Bachelor and Bride"). He explained "Side D" as songs that will appear on an expanded follow-up to Picaresque from the Jealous Butcher label. If I understood him correctly, this will be a two CD or two LP release. He then came back for an encore with some of the more well-known Decemberists songs.

Several times during the show, I kinda got a Don MacLean vibe from Colin even, perhaps especially, when singing the Morrissey songs. His voice is very similar when framed with just an acoustic guitar. Close your eyes during "I Know Very Well How I Got My Name" and you swear the next song is going to start "Starry, starry night..."

Not immediately smitten with the Morrissey CD that he's selling exclusively through this tour but I picked up a few copies. Not sure if that's because I don't care much for Morrissey or what. Still, "Sister I'm a Poet" is already growing on me as is "I've Changed My Plea To Guilty" so I'm willing to give it a few more chances. Update: I'm also grooving on "Pregnant for the Last Time"... Plead your case and I may part with one of the EPs.

Four more shows on this tour including a Tsunami benefit in Portland with the Dandy Warhols - he was a little concerned about getting up to NYC today what with the SNOW but I suppose if they get an early start, there shouldn't be a problem.

What do you think?

"Sister I'm a Poet" - Colin Meloy sings Morrissey

This weeks guest disclaimer from Bob Mould:
MP3 files are posted for evaluation purposes only. Through this site, I'm trying to share and promote good music with others, who will also hopefully continue to support these artists. Everyone is encouraged to purchase music and concert tickets for the artists you feel merit your hard earned dollars. If you hold copyright to one of these songs and would like the file removed, please let me know. Availability is limited.

... in the case this is read by him, my apologies also to the performer for taking the flash picture .... I know that this is a horrible breach of gig etiquette and for practical purposes has to be banned... I tried to set it to low light without the flash but misread the settings. In my defense, I didn't do it during a song but during the between song patter. Anyway, the bar's gig referee called me on it. This has been a week of fouls for me so why shouldn't it extend to Friday night?

And as if on cue, the snow has just started at 9:01 in downtown DC.

UPDATE: My extra CDs are gone. Colin on Flickr. Next stop for him: Teen Beat.

PS: Matt from points out in previous thread that Brooklyn Vegan has posted the entire SF show

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As I am a Colin & Morrissey fan trapped in the snow-buried confines of northern lower Michigan -- and am nowhere near one of these cool shows -- I would part with some cash if you had a Morrissey covers EP you could send my way. Please contact me at if you could...and thanks. Cheers, Erick H.