Tonight was the 826Valencia benefit show at the Palace of Fine Arts with Patton Oswalt, Zach Rogue, Mark Kozelek, Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, Jonathan Richman, and Aimee Mann.
The Palace of Fine Arts is a pretty big building. The auditorium area has very comfortable chairs in stadium-style seating and the walls are drapped in red velvet. (I’m getting that old that I’m really glad that this was a seated show.) The stage area is large and the visibility from pretty much anywhere seemed like it’d be good. The sound was excellent. That’s thanks to the sound guy, John Karr (seriously, that was his name). Thanks John!
Let’s go through the night:
Patton Oswalt: actor comedian guy. I recognized him. IMDB tells me it’s probably King of Queens (from the twoish times I’ve watched it). Turns out he’s very funny, in the offensive vein of humor, mostly.
Zach Rogue (Rogue Wave): I’ve seen him play solo before. He played a short set including “Publish my Love” and “Postage Stamp World”. He sounded great on the guitar and his vocals sounded really good too. He said a couple funny things and a few things about 826 and that was that.
Mark Kozelek: I feel pretty lucky I live in the same city (or metropolitan area) as Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) and that I get to see him with some frequency. This guy is amazing. His voice is just so pure and incredible and his fingerpicked guitar playing is intensely good, though my concert companions wished “he’d just strum a chord sometime!” His set included “Trucker’s Atlas”, “Rock N Roll Singer”, and “Glenn Tipton”. I could listen to him singing about killing babies and he’s probably sound good. [I do no condone killing babies.]
Dave Eggers: He just showed a video about 826. It was fine. Then he showed some slides of the work of this kid named Alex who utilizes 826NYC. These were hilarious. He’s about 7 and does this collages of things like a peanut and a gingerbread man and then scrawls “A gingerbread man and a peanut got married. Can you imagine what their kids look like?” or a picture of a robot playing a trumpet and the scrawled writing says “Robots are the new jazz man. They are not good. If you want to go to a jazz restaurant, do not go, no matter how good the food is! DO NOT GO!” I’d buy a book of these if they made one.
Intermission: Hug Dave Eggers for $20, get a “buddy punch” from Sarah Vowell for $5 (or 5 for $20! bargain!). I did not partipate in these deals.
Sarah Vowell: She did a reading of a story she wrote about her favorite explorer, a German cartographer named Charles Preuss who she read about when she was on a book tour, reading a book about explorers. Patton Oswalt provided the voice of Preuss in thick German accent. He was quite funny about it. The story was entertaining and funny. I’m saying “story” but it was more like a report or something. There were many mentions of the Oregon Trail, but no mentions or jokes associated with The Oregon Trail. I was quite disappointed. You gotta pick the low hanging fruit!
Jonathan Richman: The last time I saw him was also a benefit show (and also with Mark Kozelek). He’s still as absolutely entertaining as always. He’ll move his hips to the music while playing Spanish-influenced guitar and singing in Italian while providing running translation in English or making off-handed comments. And then he’ll do an odd stage bow (or think of it as a figure skater at the end of a routine). I had a big smile on my face the whole time. I’m not overly familiar with his music but he closed with “Not So Much to be Loved as to Love.”
Aimee Mann: She was the only one to play with someone else, Paul Brion (any relation to Jon ?) He sang back ups, played bass (which was up way too much in the mix, only sound problem of the night), and guitar. I’m not incredibly familiar with her stuff, mostly just her Magnolia work and a handfull of other songs. She played a nice set, including “Save Me” and “You Could Make a Killing.”She’s got a great voice and the way her melodies work over her guitar is something else.
I’d heard reports of collaborations (Byrne/ Stevens and Gibbard/ Roderick) at other 826 benefits and so I had my hopes up for this one, but nothing materialized. Mann/ Richman? Mann/ Kozelek? Kozelek/ Richman? I wonder what any of those would have sounded like.
All in all a very good concert. What’s with benefit shows being great shows? I want my Small Stakes poster for this one, though. (I don’t think any were actually made.)