Make out, fall out, make up.
Josephine Olausson said she expected three people last night. Des Moines didn't do quite as bad as that, but it was a late show, a small crowd. Here's the thing, though: Everybody was dancing. It was like people were jumping and clapping extra hard just to make up for the low turnout. And you could tell Love Is All-- the spastic post-punk quintet from Gothenburg, Sweden-- were happy about it the whole time.
This was the kind of night that makes me appreciate going to shows in Des Moines. I'd seen Love Is All once before, at Cake Shop on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and it was great-- you may still be able to listen to proof here. But I didn't really "see" them much, in the literal sense. Place was packed. And Mrs. Des Noise definitely couldn't go, what with having to ride the subway home in time to get up and teach kids the next morning. Here, not only could I see them, I could enjoy them-- without feeling self-conscious about it, either, because everybody else was probably even more demonstrative (or at least, better at dancing).
Straight out of bed I smashed my head on the bookshelf.
Last night, we heard songs from all three Love Is All albums, including new one Two Thousand and Ten Injuries. If you know the band, you know what it sounded like: Funky guitar stabs, saxophone, keyboard, and Olausson's idiosyncratic vocals about, well, love, and all-- this sort of frenetic style descended from late 1970s British indie bands, 1980s Australian indie bands, and other parts of your complete music-dork breakfast. They came back for an encore, which was nice. They complimented our dancing, which was nice. And they seemed pleasantly surprised that a place called Fong's Pizza would actually make good pizza-- also nice! (They couldn't play "Less Than Thrilled", one fan's suggestion from the new album. At this point, though, how could we not be understanding?)
It wasn't until after the show that I thought about how unorthodox Olausson is as a frontwoman. I mean, her songs radiate enough personality, humor, and desire for love that you have Dean of Critics Robert Christgau calling her "definitely my type," and Pitchfork's Jess Harvell dubbing her "one of the early 21st century's great poets of romantic dissatisfaction"-- an appraisal Olausson took to Twitter to disavow. And yet she's up there in a pink sweatshirt, hardly trying to capitalize on the crushes her songs appear to inspire. She's performing as a person.
That isn't to say she's dull up there. Anything but. Aside from her basic presentation, she's not far off from the dervish-ness of Jemina Pearl here a couple of months ago. There was barely a second to pause for a breath between songs-- a challenge for those of us doing a lot of jumping up and down-- and from time to time Olausson or another band member would come careening into the small crowd. You can tell they've been doing this for a little while (I also recommend seeking out the songs by their prior band, Girlfrendo).
I don't know that it was a good night for the Vaudeville Mews in the short term, given the low turnout. But it had to be a great long-term investment. Everyone there was visibly having just an amazing time-- they'll tell their friends. And with doors not opening until 10 p.m., it was really late for a show in Des Moines, anyway, so I know there were people who would see a band like Love Is All next time who couldn't make it. Anyway, it's just worthwhile to have a music venue that brings top-notch international acts like this one to the area. People who hadn't heard about them will start hearing about them. Events like the 80/35 festival continue to increase exposure for music that-- believe it or not, jaded New York critics-- is still off the radar for a lot of people.
Sparsely attended but awesome shows today are the only way we can eventually have packed and awesome shows sometime in the future. Uhh, right?
(Sorry I missed Mission Creek this year. We will figure out a way to get out to Iowa City for that next year. Also upcoming: Some kind of year-so-far best-of list. Morning Benders tonight!)
- the Morning Benders at Vaudeville Mews April 9
- Dum Dum Girls at Vaudeville Mews April 12
- Cowboy Mouth at Vaudeville Mews April 14
- A Weather at Vaudeville Mews April 15
- Julian Casablancas at People's April 23
- Manchester Orchestra and Thrice at People's April 25
- Poison Control Center's Record Release Party at Vaudeville Mews April 30
- Brother Ali at Vaudeville Mews May 2
- MONO and the Twilight Sad at Vaudeville Mews May 18
- Mark Mallman at Vaudeville Mews May 19
- Damien Jurado at Vaudeville Mews June 6
- 80/35 Festival July 3-July 4
- Phoenix at 7 Flags Event Center, Aug. 10
- Keith Urban at Iowa State Fair Aug. 13
- Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon at Iowa State Fair Aug. 17
- Darius Rucker at Iowa State Fair Aug. 19
- Sugarland at Iowa State Fair Aug. 21
- Sheryl Crow at Iowa State Fair Aug. 22