Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Rachelle Garniez at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 12/6/07

[Editor’s note: regulars here will notice that we don’t usually review the same artist twice in a month (ok, we did it with Moisturizer). There are a lot of great bands out there, but this particular artist is really special. Springsteen had Jon Landau; Lou Reed had Lester Bangs; we’re throwing our hat in the ring with Rachelle Garniez]

Saturday night, December 22 if you’re in town, you should go see Rachelle Garniez at Joe’s Pub. She’s been doing a residency at Barbes the first Thursday of every month at 10 practically since the place opened. It’s a great place to see her – or see anybody, for that matter – but she’s very theatrical and having a real stage to do a show on will be a good thing for her. Early on in her set tonight, she noted that everything was going wrong: “That’s a very good thing,” she told the crowd. Musicians are a very superstitious bunch: the theory is that the rehearsal, or the gig before a big show should be substandard, because that way you get all the bad stuff out of the way. The PA was feeding back, and after considerable inspection it turned out that it was the speakers in the front room (they pipe the music out there, but you can’t really hear it). The piano was in bad shape, she said. And then somebody’s cellphone went off right as she was about to launch into a song. Not an auspicious way to start the night. But it was great anyway. Give this woman lemons and she makes lemon drops. With Everclear in them.

Since her longtime co-conspirator Matt Munisteri was on his way from another gig, she started out solo on accordion and showed off her four-octave range: she’s in the same ballpark as Carol Lipnik. Watching how high she can sing and still nail the notes is pretty breathtaking. And her playing is just as good: on accordion, she was all dark and murky and gypsyish. The song she opened with didn’t have much of a time signature and meandered along, but menacingly. A lot of her recent material is very sardonic, sometimes cynical, and completely rooted in the here and now. In those songs, doom is always around the corner, even if he’s wearing a clown mask.

Then she tackled the piano and whatever condition it may have been in, she made it sing, with After the Afterparty, the opening track on her amazing new cd Melusine Years. She started it out with an impressionistic, almost Asian interlude before launching into its offhandedly bitter first verse. And when the payoff finally came – it’s an understatedly vengeful song, something Garniez is a master of – it was visceral. Munisteri showed up with his guitar about halfway through her set and joined her on an amusing reworking of the Jimmy Van Heusen chestnut Swinging on a Star (“He makes my shirts,” Munisteri joked), and then an older song, her big audience hit Grasshopper, which is another fable revisited. Garniez turns Aesop on his head, making sure that the stodgy ant doesn’t get over on the fun-loving grasshopper. She’d brought some copies of the new cd, but quickly sold them all. “But I have other ones,” she reassured the audience. “They aren’t trendy, they don’t go out of style.” Understatement of the year: her songs are timeless. Mark your calendar: December 22 at Joe’s Pub. Time will stand still.

December 8, 2007 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Concert Review: Rachelle Garniez at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 12/6/07 […]

    Pingback by Index « Lucid Culture | December 10, 2007 | Reply

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