Monday, March 9, 2009

The Bird and The Bee at The Tin Angel

Two things I want you to understand up front: 1) The Bird and The Bee put on a decent show and 2) I don’t usually complain this much about venues in show reviews. See, I’ve accepted that, say, The Electric Factory will always have poor sound, crappy parking, and way too much space. But when it comes to a place as willfully lame as The Tin Angel, I gotta piss and moan about it. The venue combines the cramped confines of an underground show with the expensive tickets and uncomfortable seating of a stadium.

Two tickets for the show cost $53.50. Lot parking was $22 (turns out the bars on 2nd Street are popular). Pints of Smithwicks were $6 each and flat. While the event was seated only, tickets were sold as General Admission, meaning that you had to reserve your seats separately from purchasing them. This was not advertised on the venue’s Web site, which would have been convenient since fans weren’t allowed to stand, even when by their chairs, and dancing was generally discouraged by staff. The Tin Angel is an awfully narrow bar, with enough room for about two tables or three chairs per row. So even though the venue can fit probably less than 100 people (I’m guessing here), my girlfriend and I still had the lovely advantage of sitting all the way in the back with a thick wall of heads to block the barely elevated stage. Packing drunk people into a shoebox is never a good time; stuffing it with drunk hipsters and creepy old guys looking for jailbait is even worse.

A poor view would’ve been somewhat more acceptable had the sound been good. But it wasn’t. At some point during opening act Obi Best’s set (think of a less interesting version of The Bird and The Bee where all of the songs are about the same European ex-boyfriend), the sound technician decided to crank up the decibels a bit. While he increased the music’s output, he didn’t really compensate on the vocals, drowning out Obi Best’s cutesy lyrics in repetitive beats. The same problem popped up a few times during The Bird and The Bee’s set. Given that everything but the keyboards and a handful of bass lines was preprogrammed, I feel kind of miffed that the levels were still off.

Now, given the circumstances, the duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin played a solid set. It was an hour long, and leaned a little too heavily on new release Ray Guns are Not Just the Future. But Kurstin is a great keyboardist; George is an even better dancer (think Charlie Brown and friends). She was constantly interacting with the fans, running around the packed bar and high-fiving everyone within her grasp. The synchronized movements with her three back-up singers (featuring Obi Best’s members), what little I could see of them, were also nice.

But George’s classy stage presence was a poor consolation prize for the $75+ my girlfriend and I paid to be there. I would definitely consider seeing the band again, though I might check out tour set lists to confirm if they’re playing more old material. My personal highlights were performances of the single “Again & Again” and the sole encore number “How Deep is Your Love.” As for the Tin Angel, it can go straight to hell.

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