I had to trade work shifts to be able to go to a concert on Saturday. When coworkers asked who I was going to see in concert, they all tilted their heads like confused dogs when I admitted I was going to see a woman play the cello. One even said “So, no mosh pit?” No. No moshing.
Zoe Keating is an immensely talented artist. But, she also brings something else to her act. She’s up there on stage by herself. But, it sounds like there are at least six other musicians up there with her. You see, she has a laptop sitting next to her. And as she’s explains it in one of the many videos of her on Youtube, she uses software to loop and layer her performance to provide a very rich sound.
I must admit that it was the tech angle that drew me to her music. After all, she uses a Mac. But, what made me go to her concert was her amazing talent. She writes truly beautiful music. And what I discovered live, was that her sound is even more incredilbe than what you can hear on her CD or a youtube video.
The only bad thing about seeing Zoe Keating live was the distance I had to travel. I live in the western part of the Denver metro area. And she was playing at the newish Soiled Dove Underground in Lowery. Before I left, I knew I had to make a few stops. While still being a little sick, I called up a few bus routes. But, once I’m on the bike, I need to be convinced that I need to get off. I ended up riding all the way to first and Quebec.
While waiting at the intersection of First Ave. and Quebec, I checked my phone and saw that my friend Sarah and her husband had already arrived. I thought about sending them a message. But, I was less than a block away. I would be there in no time. Upon arriving, I saw them sitting in their car right next to the bike rack. While I locked up, they explained that they knew I was close because Sarah saw a Virgin Mobile Mifi show up on her iPhone. That’s funny. I joked about that when I first got the thing. But, I never actually suspected that it would actually telegraph my arrival!
The Soiled Dove Underground is a great little venue. It’s under a restaurant. So, you walk down some pretty steep stairs (I wondered how they keep ice off in bad weather). It’s a very intimate little theater. Probably seating 250 max. I saw the layout when we were looking for tickets. So, I kind of knew what to expect. But, seeing how small it really is, is something else entirely. We were on the lower level and too the left of the stage. Our chairs shared a small table where you can eat appetizers and have a drink ready (for when you need to cough).
Upon taking my jackets off and stowing them with my backpack, I excused myself to go have the inevitable hacking fit in the restroom. It’s good to get it out of the way. I didn’t want to be *that* person during this kind of concert. Upon arrival back at my seat, I ordered a coke and we chatted while waiting.
I’ve seen Zoe Keating say that she tries not to touch the laptop once the concert starts. But, after three or four songs, she reluctantly said that she feared that she would have to restart it. We had a good view of the laptop from our seats. I don’t think it actually restarted. But, she did fill time with a story or two while she did something. It had been sitting quite awhile before the concert and she is using some new equipment on this tour.
After a few minutes of talking about how her son isn’t back stage on this tour (he was at a hotel room with his father), she got back to business. I can’t emphasis enough how amazing her music is. It’s a wonder to listen too.
One of the first things I noticed about her when I first saw her on video was how tall she is. I was curious how tall she really is. So, when she came out to talk to people afterwards, I was surprised to find that she was probably a hair shorter than me. I’m 5’10 1/2″. We walked behind her on our way out. She had short heels on, which made it hard to judge her actual height. I need to mention how much I loved her shoes. Their hard to describe. But, I so want a pair. The other thing I noticed about her was her hair. In the videos I’ve seen, she had long red hair which sometimes appeared to be in dread locks. She had cut most of it off and left a short mane of dyed red at the top.
She spoke between selections about where she lives. Sarah and her husband Bill speculated that it might be close to where they lived during their brief stay in Northern California. She spoke of Redwood trees and being close to the ocean. That area is pretty vast. So, it’s hard to say exactly where that is.
Toward the end, she spoke about a new album that she’s working on. It sounds like it’s still a little rough. But, when it comes out, I will be picking up a copy. It was a concert, so of course there was an encore. She played Optimist, a song she wrote for her son, before standing up and exiting the stage. At the conclusion of the applause she came out, took a seat, swung the microphone closer to her mouth and admitted how silly she felt over in the little room off stage waiting for the inevitable encore.
Everything about Saturday’s concert was wonderful. I got to hang out with friends in a very intimate venue while watching a very nice and immensely talented artist play beautiful music. It was everything and more than I expected when we bought the tickets months ago. I can’t wait for her to come back to Denver again.
Here she is playing Optimist at TEDx San Francisco. You know, Boulder has a TEDx as well. Maybe she can be persuaded to play at the next TEDx Boulder!