I WAS THERE . . . Mia Riddle, Tobias Froberg, Ane Brun @ Union Hall, 11.12.08
Ane Brun performing “My Lover Will Go” live at Union Hall
When I’d been assigned to review the Ane Brun show at Union Hall I was told it was important to be there by 7pm because folk shows start on time. So rushing out of my day job and skipping dinner I wasn’t thrilled to get to the venue and find out Brun wasn’t due to go on until 10:30 pm. The idea of sitting through random opening bands so I could get home at midnight wasn’t appealing and I seriously considered blowing the whole thing off. Having a fight with the door girl because my press pass was missing from the list didn’t help the situation.
I was more than a little cranky by the time the first band, Mia Riddle, came on; which isn’t usually a good start to enjoying a show. Surprisingly Mia Riddle was so good that even with a scaled down band of three (instead of the usual six) I actually enjoyed the show.
Live, and in a small space Mia Riddle make gentle, complicated music that sounds like it came from the Carolina’s but really grew up in California and lives in Brooklyn now. Their most recent CD, Tumble & Drag is even more impressive. Maybe my favorite album of 2008, it’s cowboys, rock, gospel choirs, big as Texas without ever being loud.
After Mia Riddle it was hard for the rest of the show not to be a disappointment. Tobias Froberg ‘s music is either a really painful experience or a fantastic joke on the scale of Flight of the Concords. His set was like standing through the most pretentious set by a guy at a coffee house open mike, but having it go on for nearly an hour.
Brun’s set felt like an extended lullaby. One song melted into the next, always delicately harmonious, and very sleepy. Unfortunately, the acoustics of the venue tends to dampen sound once the room fills up. Stand more than a few feet from the stage and most of the nuance of the music is lost.
I came away from the night having decided two things:
1) Mia Riddle is a great band (and very patient with questions from obnoxious journalists).
2) Sometimes it’s best to get there early and leave early.