I WAS THERE . . .WAZ @ The Living Room, 5.27.09

On leave from Pete Yorn, WAZ recently let his music float through the air of The Living Room in NYC. The crowd was respectfully silent as his songs softly played out like lullabies. The hour long set featured his wife Jamie on piano and a string trio on loan from NYU, all of whom complemented WAZ’s honest, dogged guitar strumming and singing.

The themes of the night rarely varied. The stripped down versions of these songs are even calmer than WAZ’s albums and his eternal band-mate, Pete Yorn. His live folk sound should play while you are lying in bed, stroking your lover’s hair and falling asleep. If that sounds like a scene from Grey’s Anatomy, you won’t be surprised to find out that WAZ’s music has been featured on the show. Highlights of the evening included the rolling “Ordinary Girl,” sweeping through a great, uplifiting chorus. The 2008 hit “Mine to Remember” also made an appearance, aided by the pulsing, longing string section. Breaking character and form, the biggest surprise of the night came from a cover of “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League. Any song that can successfully make the transition from 80s synth-pop to modern folk-rock deserves an award.

Jamie, featured on piano and vocals, is an outstanding side-woman. Her wistful piano chords hung like wallflowers behind the mix, and her voice blended perfectly with WAZ’s singing, creating ghost-like harmonies.

Closing the night, WAZ and Jamie taught the crowd a chorus of their closer and encouraged them to belt it out during the song. This theatrical technique of mid-concert rehearsal rarely seems to go smoothly, but the over effect was fun. After such a relaxing hour, a cup of coffee was in order, and maybe the crowd was a bit groggy. Invite WAZ to lull you into a day-dream; you’ll definitely enjoy it.

Look for WAZ’s music to be featured in “Cougar Town” a new ABC sitcom featuring Courtney Cox, debuting this fall. His album The Sweet Bye and Bye and the EP The Secret are both available on iTunes.

Paul Seiz

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