MIA DOI TODD with the FOLK IMPLOSION and ALASKA at the Horseshoe, March 15. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
There's nothing sadder than a remarkably talented musician out of her element.Cali singer Mia Doi Todd's Horseshoe gig Saturday night put her in a place packed to the gills with cultish Folk Implosion devotees riled up by the sudden burst of spring and well-lubed with beer.
Too bad the tiny Todd demands near silence. She looked like a miserable munchkin when she took the stage and launched into a gut-wrenching a cappella folkie ballad.
For a split second, the mood was transcendental. The crowd put a lid on it and just listened to her haunting froggy-voiced whispering about shepherds in bucolic fields. But chatter from the Horseshoe's smoky front room seeped in, and before Todd'd even reached the end of the tune the magic had dissipated.
Every once in a while, a lovely snippet of melody would penetrate the sound barrier. The acoustic-strummed Autumn, a lilting 60s-inflected lullaby from last year's The Golden State disc, just barely registered on the radar.
What I could hear of Todd's Beth Orton-meets-Nico warble was ethereally great, but I couldn't hear that much. I was stoked to see her live after reading about her recent onstage anti-war antics, but the girl should get some more stage presence or go back to playing coffeehouses. Nobody's gonna start a revolution with that kind of shy stoicism and stripped-down commentary.
Everyone suddenly shut up for headliners the New Folk Implosion. Joined by Todd on acoustic guitar, the Implosion's amped-up indie guitar bombast didn't deserve the rapt attention.
Lou Barlow may have been going through a rough patch lately, but that's no excuse for a lacklustre performance. The entire band kept their heads down, loath to engage the crowd with banter, and marched through a set of straightforward rockers from their New Folk Implosion disc.
The lack of personality seemed odd considering the charming navel-gazing routine Barlow pulled off when he came through town with Sebadoh last fall. Back then, he was all about the lo-fi poet-troubadour hero act.
But even tragic heroes need to show evidence of a email@example.com