Monday, December 08, 2008

Live Review: Kimya Dawson and Matty Pop Chart

Download: The Moldy Peaches - "Who's Got The Crack?"
Download: Kimya Dawson - "Tree Hugger"

You know how some things just make you feel good? Kimya Dawson and Matty Pop Chart do that to me. The two hit up the Cedar Cultural Center this past Friday for a 3 p.m. kids show and an 8 p.m. "adults" show.

Pop Chart opened up the show. I didn't know who he was before Friday night, and even now all I know about him is that I must marry him. I have never seen a more charming, adorable person on a stage anywhere. Ever. Matt and his guitar played a strong set of adorable acoustic pop jams that generally lasted under three minutes. He touched on a whole bunch of my favorite topics – being awkward, video games, being told you're a prophet by members of your church – with a sort of sweet confessional feel. I was really struck by how he thanked the audience before they even started clapping. It's really hard to convey how charming, gracious and adorable he was. I really didn't want his set to end.

But, you know, you can't complain too hard when the next act is Kimya Dawson. The nice thing about Kimya Dawson is that she isn't universally recognized as one half of the band that sang that one song that was in that movie about the pregnant chick. Dawson was really free to play some of her more obscure material without some jerk shouting "Play that "Juno" song!" in the middle of the set.

Dawson opened up the show with "Eleventeen," off of 2002's I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean. The thing about Dawson's lyrics that I think comes across even better live is the bizarre honesty to them. "Eleventeen" is a really meaningful, sweet song wrapped in a layer of strange imagery that sometimes detracts from my ability to really absorb its meaning. Live, Dawson gets up on stage, sits down and seems completely unassuming. She even plays an out-of-tune guitar. The lack of pretension to her really helps forge a meaningful connection with the audience.

The rest of the set struck a really nice balance between the goofy sweetness of songs like "Tree Hugger" (recorded in 2006 with Antsy Pants) and the somber grounding of "Underground" and "Rocks with Holes." I'm not really sure what else to say about her performance – if you've listened to any of Dawson's projects on recording, you have a fairly good idea of what her live show sounds like.

What I do have something to say about is her chemistry with Matt. He was playing ukulele, glockenspiel, shakers and whatever other random musical devices fell into reach. During the course of the performance, Dawson demonstrated a feature of the mixing board called "reverse chunks." Dawson had the crowd in stitches as she boomed down mandates (such as weeding her garden and raising her child) to Matt in this sturdy-yet-squeaky echo tone. The two had put out a loveable goofball presence that was charming to the extreme. The show at the Cedar was a great night of fun, laughter and music; definitely try to catch Kimya Dawson and Matty Pop Chart if they play near you.

(April Wright)

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