Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Posies in Vienna, Austria (4/19/08)

After too long an absence, RIB is proud to post the following concert review from our lone international (and female!) correspondent, Moni. Moni, as you may know, is the world's foremost Ken Stringfellow stalker. Her review this time? Why Stringfellow's band, the Posies, of course.

Band: The Posies (acoustic)
Date: 04/19/08
Venue: Flex, Vienna, Austria
Rating: 4/5

I have waited to see an acoustic Posies show since I bought the band’s sophomore album, “Dear 23.” I got a used copy in Athens, Ga., signed by Mr. Stringfellow himself, who wrote, “Pls. take me home!” I just had to do him that favor.

The first thing that captured me were the phenomenal harmony vocals of Stringfellow and Jon Auer all over the record.

My only previous time seeing the band was a couple of years ago in Munich, in full-band mode and ear-shatteringly loud - at one point it was almost impossible to recognize the songs. Harmony vocals? Yeah, maybe. I couldn’t really tell from all the white noise coming from the speakers. Until this show at the Flex, the Posies hadn’t been to Vienna for almost a decade.

So the whole way to the venue I kept wondering if I'd be disappointed. Truth be told, the show didn’t meet my expectations at all. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn't sure what to think of it at first. I was certainly a bit let down by the low turnout - I had expected the venue, which holds a few hundred people, to be more or less full, but there were maybe not more than 60-80 people there. We made quite a lot of noise between the songs, though, and I had the impression Jon and Ken felt very welcome.

Overall, I was expecting something more loose and more wild. (I know, how wild can an acoustic show get? Still, leave it to those guys to turn any show into happy, drunk debauchery.) But I guess that's a small complaint, since, as laid back as the show was, it was very sharp - I have no idea whether the two of them still have to rehearse after all these years; seeing them make music together looks and sounds incredibly effortless, but without ever sounding stale or having an air of mere routine. Those brilliant vocal harmonies sounded as great as ever, especially on beautifully melodic songs like “Every Bitter Drop,” where they were pure bliss. And while I prefer Jon’s guitar playing, Ken’s voice is simply amazing. That man sounds like he could hold a note past the point where any other singer would’ve gone blue in the face.

They worked their way through songs from every album and even a song from their EP, “Nice Cheekbones and a PhD,” and even “Believe in Something Other” from their debut album, “Failure” - just not a single song from “Dear23." Maybe I’ve lined up too much bad karma? After almost two hours, the Posies closed their set with the nicely sinister “Coming Right Along."

In his blog Ken later wrote, “It’s these relaxed shows that I love the best, where playing with Jon feels like putting on your favorite old leather jacket, and effort is minimal for maximum effect. And for sure people loved it. We had great praise after the show from Daniel from Nada Surf, who was home between tours.”

Yes, Ken, we liked it lots. I’ll take one point off for the complete lack of songs from “Dear 23," though. Maybe next time? I just hope it won't take them another ten years to come back.