Cabaret Festival - Leonard Cohen Songbook - Mostly, it is...
Oct. 4th, 2008
09:01 am - Cabaret Festival - Leonard Cohen Songbook
Last night I went to the previously mentioned Cabaret Festival in the Distillery for the Leonard Cohen Songbook. I had a good time. All the performances were enjoyable, though given Mary Margaret O'Hara's following, I'm inclined to say that I've probably not seen her at her best. Steven Page played to form with brooding and play in Your Famous Blue Raincoat and a duet with Patricia O'Callaghan for a song I'm not familiar with involving something along the lines of going up to the tallest blondest girl in the room and saying 'You don't know me but soon you will' at a dance in a gym. Patricia O'Callaghan impressed again as a cabarettist (Did I make that up or is it a pre-existing construction?), making up for the last concert of hers that I went to where I felt a bit let down in comparison to the first time I'd been to one. Sarah Slean did her pieces well, I'm your man in particular, though she was doing that thing again with her left hand twitching her skirt in a way that was off in a bit of a distracting way that made me wonder if she was trying to do something in her performer character that she couldn't quite pay attention to. If what she did earlier in her career on stage was more natural for her (though I could see her possibly thinking that it wasn't professional enough - kooky not-quite-dancing in an endearing-if-not-necessarily-dignified way) (I've only seen it in these last two performances), then I might rather that she could find it comfortable. Apostle of Hustle (including Andrew Whiteman, also of Bourbon Tabernacle Choir and Broken Social Scene), were the only band to do a poetry reading. And it was really well done. They followed it up with some of Cohen's newer work (tried to find pieces about which the audience could not feel nostalgia), which I was grateful for, not being familiar with either of the pieces, since now I know that I should take a look for them. They weren't the only ones to do poetry. Robert Cushman, who hosted, also did some readings between sets, which I thought went nicely. I think that one of them was called "The most beautiful music", and went something like "You go your way/ and I'll/ go your way." which I'm still thinking about.
For those of you in the position to someday go to the Distillery, may I recommend a Patisserie? I believe that it's called something like Sweet Escape, but I'll confirm that tomorrow (today? eep, I should really get to sleep) when I go back with a resealable container to bring some of their delightful cupcakes home with me.
This next bit is more me doing a bit of commentary rather than being prescriptive to readers - in intent anyway. I'm also aware of different standards, and I can see a few ways in which what I'm describing would not actually be rude from a particular set of viewpoints. I just happen to find them disagreeable, and I'm going to exemplify my preferred alternative.
If one is going to badmouth a performer or band, and one is sitting up front, it might be better to at least wait for them to clear the stage and get out of earshot. If one is going to badmouth the audience members who clapped for their performance, it might also be better to wait until they aren't around either.
Now it may be that this was an action of habit from being used to venues where even at the front one wouldn't be even close to approximately 250 cm from the person you're talking about, I can't say. I can say that it is probable that people who think that "You wouldn't want to see kids going to school like that." (Where "that" is jeans and a hooded grey sweatshirt with the words "Goodbye fascist" across the front. Not even particularly baggy or ill kept.) are probably not who Apostle of Hustle is going to appeal to. I can even understand this part at an emotional level.
Extended sidenote: Somehow, though in many ways my parents are pretty indifferent to personal appearance sartorially in many contexts (there's some leeway - if in an area where appearing 'a' significantly increases your risk of significant pain or death, and you can convincingly pass for not-'a', that's a good idea, to take a non-random, albeit fairly extreme, example) I managed to internalize the message that to go out in public in poor form, including such things as creased up wrinkled clothes, un-brushed teeth, uncombed hair, etc... was rude and disrespectful of others because you inflicting the vision of your untidy state upon them (i.e.: it's not about you, or whether you care what other people's impression of you is, it's just inconsiderate and disruptive to proper social order.).
Notwithstanding those feelings, and including the lady's statement that she believes that a performance is also about the visual impression, I think that for her to say that their dress is disrespectful (my impression - of the audience more than the material, though that too), is a bit shallow. For one thing it disregards a few perfectly valid, fairly obvious, and not particularly novel rationales. A) being unpretentious B) a statement to the effect that 'What I'm wearing, what I look like, who I am, isn't what's important. The music, that's important. Focus on that.
Anyway. That was an hour's worth of writing. I should get some rest so that I can enjoy today's shows.
P.S.: Karina? Leah? If you'd have any interest in joining me for tea, chocolate nuit blanche, or hey, shows, this weekend I'm planning on going to the following:
3:45 - 5:15 Melanie Doane
5:30 - 6:30 Sarah Slean
8:00 - 9:30 Kurt Weill Songbook
3:30-4:30 Steven Page
5:45-6:45 Patricia O'Callaghan
10:00-11:30 The Collaboratory Jam
Outside of those times, I have no set plans besides getting back to the appropriate places in time. I'm going to e-mail you my phone number. It should be on outside of showtimes.