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Genre-bending with Pink Martini.

Before I devote my attentions to Zooey and her recent social media invasion, I would like to address the free show at Central Park I went to to FINALLY see the jazz/world orchestra, Pink Martini, a band I've liked since (I believe) my sophomore year of college. Each summer I kind of went through a musical phase. There was the French music phase, there was the Scott Walker phase, there was the Lee Hazlewood phase...I won't drone on. But yeah. Pink Martini was a result of my bossanova period and have remained one of my favorite "different" kind of groups since. Their sound is very refreshing, very invigorating. When you look at the span of popular music right now- and I don't mean just the shit they play on the radio, but who honestly listens to the radio anymore?- Pink Martini manage to stand in an unique corner of it. Meaning:  I can't think of many other bands that compare to them. 


First things first:  MY GOD IT WAS HOT YESTERDAY.


seriously, I always underestimate how hot it gets in this city! I even came home with my back still soaked, my t-shirt still sticking to me. How I have managed not to pass out yet is beyond me- superhuman endurance, maybe?- but fuckkkkkkkk. If it wasn't for the fact I have missed out on the opportunity to see Pink Martini live like three times back in Erie, I would have not gone. But this is a big problem of mine. I flake out too easily. My friend who I was going with couldn't go, so this left me flying solo, as I think Mike hates jazz. I'm fine with doing things solo. See, I truly and genuinely am. However, I did end up finding someone to meet up with, which ended up being a good experience.


And in addition to being soul-meltingly hot, it was PACKED. You take an award-winning and somewhat well-known group as Pink Martini and give them a free show and yeah you're going to have thousands of people showing up. In throngs. With picnic baskets. Lots of gay men. Just saying. "Portland rules!"


~ the dream of the 90s is alive in PORTLAND ~


I arrived like around 5:30 after eating at the worst McDonald's God created and I mean this I used to work at McDonald's for six months before they fired me for stealing a bag of frozen fries (some huffy cashier throwing my bag at me, MORE GOOD TIMES ALL AROUND!) and find myself situated between two very old people in the line. Like, I was told these Central Park shows bring out a lot of desperately-trying-to-be-hip adults, but I didn't expect to see really old people. Oh well. Was cute anyway. I can't find water fountain; I can't find decent toilet. All my clothes are sticking to me. It was beautiful.


Once the line kicked into gear around 6 and I realized the bathhouses were not the place to go, things got a lot better. Met up with my companion and took our seats inside- we were one of the lucky enough people to get inside I guess. Pink Martini started sharply at 7 with a few introductions from various so-and-sos. I don't know. Someone from a jazz music station based out of Newark and the other as someone who is in charge of the whole planning and all.


Then, Pink Martini came to the stage and I swear that band is like an army. Like, you know how you think you could get really drunk and pass out and wake up as a member of Broken Social Scene or the Polyphronic Spree? Same deal different genre. It's an orchestra. There's a lot of people and I don't know any of their names but they are all rather talented folks. Thomas M. Lauderdale, a pianist from Portland (PORTLAND!) who went to Harvard founded the "little orchestra." Which is basically what they are. 


They started with possibly my favorite song by them, their version of "Amado Mio," popularized by Rita Hayworth in the film Gilda. hot:





They managed to play the majority of my favorite tracks by them, also "DONDE ESTAS YOLANDA." (youtube it!) Unfortunately though, their usual singer, China Forbes, is down and out do to throat problems for a while. So we were treated to three different singers, being:


- ARI SHAPIRO OF NPR FAME. my GOD that boy can sing! 
- Lucy Woodward, who had a phenomenal stage presence.
- Storm Large, who was just all-around incredible, especially when dealing with Ari. The two of them had an awesome back-and-forth banter going all night which really lit up the between-song sets. 


Like I was thinking, when I saw Lykke Li- and I adore Lykke you know- she barely talked to the audience. She didn't try to like, make the audience feel at ease or what have you. Pink Martini, they live up to their name. How so? They make you want to sit down and drink a martini to their music and raise it to them. Makes you feel like you are at some gigantic 1950s Cuban nightclub. Oh, so good. See them live, seriously. I've heard people spurt on about how
much of a talented live band they are and they SO live up to it, you have no idea.


So anyway, they played about a 2-hour long set. In that set, I think they played songs influenced by disco, a cover of "Quizas Quizas Quizas," a Turkish call-and-response anthem using the Turkish Choir of New York (all of which probably have interpals accounts), some of their standards and one, I believe, Mozart string concerto. I mean- this band tested more genres than Madonna has looks, than LiLo has booze companies. 


And although it was very sad to not have China present, all the other singers did fine jobs. The most who impressed me was Ari Shapiro. I still cannot believe that voice on NPR I've heard all these years is responsible for THIS:  





I know they brought out a few more singers, too, but I was hot and tired so I left early. And thus began the long trainride home. Was worth it, though.


SO WORTH IT. also, I want to talk about the woman in front of me who looked like Caroline Kennedy. She was there with her husband and I think took down a bottle of wine during the show. Whatever. But by the time it was nearing its finale, the woman had gotten up and started like, dancing all over in some weird belly-danced inspired method. She was grinding up on her somewhat awkwardly amused husband. Oh man, this woman touched my spirit. I kept thinking to myself "look at that liberated middle-aged woman. I bet she's never read Eat Pray Love!" DON'T STOP, CAROLINE KENNEDY LOOKALIKE. YOU INSPIRED ME!


question:  why are summer concerts yet so popular? do people enjoy swamp ass that much?


SUMMERSTAGE CONCERTS AT CENTRAL PARK HERE

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