Show: Eleanor Friedberger
Venue: The world famous Troubadour in Los Angeles
Drinks: Water. I was broke.
History With the Artist: I saw Eleanor twice last year where she performed her just released (and quite terrific) album LAST SUMMER alone with just a guitar. From 2003-2011, I've seen her band Fiery Furnaces roughly a half-dozen or so times, beginning with them opening for Ted Leo at The Bottom of the Hill supporting GALLOWSBIRD'S BARK, I was there for Leo.
Song I Most Wanted to Hear: "Scenes From Bensonhurst" is my favorite track from her recent album but she played that last year, I wanted to hear the way her band would interpret "Roosevelt Island" and I was not disappointed by the funked out disco version that they performed.
Musical Disappointments: Her only opener was Dominant Legs and I thought they were mildly disappointing and failed to make much of an impression. It sounded like Yacht Rock filtered through the cocaine of the disco era, but perhaps I would like them more on record. The show ended fairly early, even with a healthy three song encore by Friedberger (more on that in a bit).
How Was the Crowd: I walked in about ten minutes into Dominant Legs set and found a gulf between the performers on the stage and the crowd which was all pushed back towards the bar looking like tentative kids at a high school dance. However, something pretty awesome happened next. One of the Troubadour's staff security dudes started ushering the crowd forward and encouraging them to dance and after only a minute of his efforts the crowd was more engaged with the performance and had filled in the space surrounding the stage. It set the scene for later, when the far from capacity crowd danced and cheered in a very enthusiastic manner for Ms. Friedberger.
Superficial/General Impression on Singer's Appearance: I've always considered Eleanor Friedberger one of the sexiest front women working today. She has a pretty face and smiles often to both punctuate lyrics and offer a warm entry point for the sometimes difficult music, especially in the case of her work with the Fiery Furnaces.
Merch Table: I didn't have a lot of money that I was looking to spend at the show, but I still looked at the merch table. They had Eleanor Friedberger's album and shirt, both of which I bought last year. Dominant Legs side of the table had their new LP (which has a striking cover) and a 10" release, I didn't like them enough to buy it.
Run-in's With the Bands: I shook Eleanor's hand after the show and asked if she was working on a new album yet. She said she was probably a year away from having another album and would probably be recording it sometime this summer. I complimented her show and she thanked me, she seems like a very nice person.
Best Onstage Moment, Non-Musical: For the encore, Eleanor joked that she wanted to recreate the kiss scene from her video for "My Mistakes" and she brought out Britt Daniel (!) of Spoon. She asked what song they should play and he joked that they were going to play "You Grind My Gears" and she responded that she didn't know that one. They played "Trouble Comes Running" together, trading off on lyrics. Then he stayed out for "Inn of the Seventh Ray" playing rhythm guitar (looking at his cheat sheet) and sang the lyric "The only girl I see myself in is you." When he left the stage, she picked up his cheat sheet and threw it into the audience for a lucky fan.
Best Onstage Chatter: Eleanor Friedberger talked less than at previous shows but she did vamp a bit when their bass guitar fucked up and they had to borrow Dominant Leg's bass and she dedicated several songs to girls in the audience, including terrific new song "I'll Never Be Happy Again" which seemed to strike the dedicatee as a mixed blessing.
Did the Bass Player Look Bored?: No, he was not bored and he added a great amount of energy to the songs, several of them taking on a jaunty, disco or alternatively jangly pop vibe with his aid.
Overall Scientific Rating of Show (out of ten): 7.9