Smile Politely

Anyone Else but Poo: Kimya Dawson at the IMC

[Kimya Dawson, L’Orchidee D’Hawai and Angelo Spencer at the Independent Media Center on April 13]

Angelo Spencer, the first opener of the evening, was quite the modern day troubadour. Taking ambidexterity to the limit, he played guitar with the upper half of his body and an abbreviated drum kit with his feet. There was something inescapably amateur about his sound, but even when the Frenchman’s banter was a bit lost in translation, people continued cheering for him. The speak-sung lyrics and spastic strums highlighted both a slight similarity to Art Brut, and unfortunately, the void of not having a full band.

L’Orchidee D’Hawai was next, and played songs in Polish that people liked and tunes in English that people didn’t dance to. With an obvious ethnic quality built into their sound, their instrumentals worked well while the vocals were accented and not too appealing. But, it became more worthwhile to tap a foot along from the excited happiness the band — specifically the constantly grinning bassist — exuded.

Two hours after the start of the show, headliner Kimya Dawson sauntered onstage. Dressed in a brown t-shirt and a skirt seemingly made of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedsheet, she sat down, and asked the audience to do the same. Since the audience was originally seated and had to stand to make room for everyone, this was no easy task. The crowd may have looked like a sea of comfortable cross-legged bodies, but people squirmed and re-adjusted constantly throughout the hour and a half set.

Dawson played a slew of songs, with the goofiest being those from her upcoming kids’ album called Alphabutt, named after a tune about poops and farting, out later this year. Covered in tattoos of things such as a panda, bunny, white horse and various phrases, her cutesy demeanor was infectious, particularly when she became bashful while bantering. Her honest, pop culture-infused lyrics and trademarked style of quickly singing strung-together terms yielded tunes featuring Dawson talking of bears, humans as animals, and kids breaking bones. The live performance was exactly what you would expect — intimate, fun and full of well-crafted music.

She held onto the Juno tunes until the end of the night, and still used them sparingly, refraining from playing the inferable crowd favorite, The Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone Else But You.” Now famous as a Bleeker-Guff duet, “Anyone Else But You” and the Juno soundtrack seems to easily parallel that of Garden State, another independent film that unexpectedly became a wild success with a soundtrack to match. And, though this comparison would make Kimya Dawson this year’s The Shins — who were ironically playing as the last people filed out of the venue — it’s a hell of a lot more fun to get behind a singer-songwriter whose next album is for kids but still fun for adults, instead of a snoozefest like Wincing The Night Away.

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