Friday, March 01, 2013

Jana's Evening

How much fun is this? Jana had a great time last night, at the urging of her brother. They are both Amanda Palmer fans, and Jherek Bischoff often plays with and opens for Amanda. Last evening, he was opening for Efterklang (!) in D.C. Here's Jana meeting Jherek at a concert last September:

I may be prejudiced, but I think that Jana is a terrific writer, and here's another example that proves the point! I enjoyed reading it so much that I got her permission to put it on my blog! Lucky me :)


First she wrote:

So, I'm about to head out for an evening of Danish ambient electro-synth with a complete stranger. This is what being an Amanda fan does to you, combined with being Tom's sister.

Here's what NPR says about Efterklang's latest album:

    Inspired by a nine-day session spent gathering field recordings in the abandoned Russian mining settlement that gives the album its name — it's on an island situated between Norway and the North Pole — Piramida is full of strange and mysterious accumulated sounds. The vacant facility produced all sorts of ghostly and clamorous sonic emissions, many of which find their way into these 10 sweetly stately, somewhat uncharacteristically melancholy songs.

Why am I going to see them on purpose? Because their opener is the amazing Jherek Bischoff (attached), who, when he isn't being Amanda's bass player, does his own experimental music. And while that's not really my thing, I adore him.

And why am I going with a complete stranger? Because Tom tweeted that we should totally go together, and in a fit of Amanda-fan-inspired optimism, forgetting that I am a total social anxiety dweeb who does not meet people easily or do well in crowds of strangers, I was like hell yeah let's go!

Then came this followup:

I misjudged the traffic and got there ridiculously early -- the good news was I arrived exactly at the magic 6:30 moment when rush hour lanes turn back into parking lanes, and got the perfect parking spot. The bad news was I had a couple of hours to kill.

I thought there might be a place to have coffee or something and didn't expect much. But magically, right next to the Rock and Roll Hotel was a place called Biergarten Haus. I had brats and sauerkraut and listened to their polka tape make a couple of complete circuits, and felt like I was back at Metzgers or the Old German.

But the the place was starting to fill up, and I started to feel guilty about taking up one of their prime window seats when I was clearly done eating, but I still felt like it was too early to go into the venue. So I fessed up to the gregarious waiter, who turned out to also be the owner, that I was seeing a show next door and wasn't really ready to go over there yet so was it OK if I hung out for a while longer. He said sure, and asked who I was going to see, and told me stories about musicians who had eaten at his place.

Then I asked for some coffee, and what already felt way too friendly for a DC experience went right off the friendly charts. He said, oh darn, we don't serve coffee here, but tell you what, go ahead up the street to the pie diner and get some coffee, and you can bring it back here. I'll save your table for you. I said ... really? Do you want me to cash out first? He said, why, are you planning on running away or something?

So, I went up the street and discovered the oh my god pie diner. It's called Dangerously Delicious, and I've actually heard them interviewed on NPR, but I didn't know where they were located. All they do is pie -- sweet, savory and quiches. And coffee. Which they spell cofee on the sign for some reason, but anyway. I drooled over their menu as they poured me some, and decided I would have to have at least 3 slices if I ate there because I could not possibly choose. I Mean Look!! (note the cofee.) Except that is only a fraction of what's on the in-store menu. I was particularly intrigued by "pancake batter pie," with the tagline, who says pie's not for breakfast?

ANYway, I got my coffee and went back to Biergarten Haus and listened to the polka tape go another couple rounds (it was a very short tape) and bided my time until it was about 20 minutes before Jherek's set. When I couldn't put it off any longer, I went into the venue and staked out a spot by the wall. Then began the dance of the awkward.

The guy right next to me was giving off a very strong Amanda fan kinship vibe, but he wasn't wearing the trademark jacket Tom had described. The option of saying "Hey, are you Cameron?" seemed impossibly daunting. So, I got out my iphone and tweeted to Cameron that I was scanning the crowd for the famous jacket but no luck. Sure enough, the guy right next to me got out his phone and looked at twitter, and looked at me, and I smiled. He typed on his phone, my phone buzzed, and there was the tweet he had sent back to me saying he was wearing his trenchcoat. I hit him in the arm and laughed, and the ice was broken.

Jherek was great, and the crowd was polite about listening to orchestral arrangements for strings at a rock show. It was interesting being in a crowd that didn't know who he was or what to expect, and seeing how they reacted to things like "a song I wrote for a woman who walked really slow," and "once I almost died in a storm on a sailboat, and that inspired this song." They were good-natured, and smiled at Jherek's endearing geekiness, while I kept erupting into fits of adoring giggles every time he tried to explain what his music was about. And his song Eyes went over really well. It's fun because he used to be really self-conscious about singing it (it was a collaboration with David Byrne who did the vocals on the album), but he has really grown into it and he did a truly amazing job and all those people who had never heard of him loved it.

After his set, he walked by me and I hi-5'd him and said great job, and I thought that was probably going to be the extent of my fangirl moment. But then I had the thought ... pie diner. Suddenly I had the mental image of Jherek and Cameron and I eating pie and talking like normal pie-eating people who talk to each other without going all pink and stammery and getting starstruck. Pie, I thought, is the great equalizer. There are no stars and fans over pie! I asked Cameron what he thought, and he was game for asking him. So after giving Efterklang a polite 3-song listen, we elbowed our way through the crowd where coincidentally Jherek was directly on the path to the door. He smiled when he saw us coming, and I put on my best casual hey we're both people here voice and said "Hey, we're going next door for a slice of pie, you want to join us?"

Poor Jherek. He looked sincerely aggrieved as he explained that he would love to, but he had to go man the merch table, but thanks for asking, that's so sweet. And then I went all pink and stammery after all, so I said some oh, ok, maybe some other time then type words in a rush that I really don't remember and made for the door.

And then it turned out that Cameron has a gluten thing, so we didn't do pie after all. He walked me to my car (which was conveniently on the way to his car) and we talked about seeing other shows sometime, and all was well.

And then I came home, and now I can't sleep, and tomorrow is going to be brutal. But worth it!

Then came the postscript!