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My Week of Many Shows Part 2: Regina Spektor/Jupiter One at the Greek Theater

October 29, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Music

regina3The piano is not an easy instrument to rock on stage. it’s difficult to jump when one is playing a piano, and, as everyone knows, the key to a dynamic live show is a lot of jumping. (See: Van Halen.)

We arrived at the Greek Theater at about 8:00. The Greek Theater is an outdoor amphitheater located in Griffith Park, about a mile up the hill from my apartment. When I say “up the hill,” I mean straight up. It’s not a walk for pansies. But the alternative is spending $15 to park a mile away from my apartment, and I, for one, simply do not cotton to that kind of behavior. I was with my wife, Sarah, and her dad, Bob who is visiting for a week from Louisville. I’d posted an earlier Regina video on Awkward Press that Bob fell in love with, so when we heard that Regina was here, we talked to people and made things happen. The people we talked to were Ticketmaster.

Jupiter One went on at 7:30. We decided to skip them because their name is terrible and the song I heard online sounded like Toad the Wet Sprocket crossed with a nap. The minute we arrived, we got right in the food and drink line. We stayed in this line until 8:30. The people at the Greek Theater are unconscionably slow. We watched disdainfully as everyone in front of us left the line with massive amounts of chicken fingers, hamburgers, pizza, and beers. It’s 8:30, dicks! Eat before the concert! And then we got to the front of the line and it took them 4 minutes to pour us 3 hot chocolates, which we had ordered because it’s freezing in L.A. right now. (Interesting fact: in L.A., water freezes at 65 degrees.)

We got to the front of the line just as Regina took the stage. Let me tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than hearing 5,000 people scream for the act you have come to see while you are trapped behind the stage area, watching 3 workers trying to figure out how to operate a machine that only has one button.

Regina from my perspective

Regina from my perspective

We finally got our chocos and rushed to our seats in the upper-upper balcony. Which actually were not as bad as I thought they would be. I mean, her face still looked like a splash of whiteness from where we sat. When one cannot make out Regina Spektor’s giant lips, one is clearly watching her from a great distance. This is why I usually don’t like going to big shows: because I feel like I’m not actually watching a live performance. The giant screens at the sides of the stage give the illusion of intimacy, but if I spend too much time looking at them, I feel like I’m just watching TV. So then I try to watch the stage but all I can see is a quivering blob. They have done a great job of figuring out how to amplify sound, but no one even bothers to try amplifying vision. Cameras aren’t a good solution. If I ever built an amphitheater, I would put an enormous rectangular magnifying glass between the upper tiers and the stage. Although I guess then you’d be limited to nighttime shows, because during the day the performers would burst into flames.

According to the giant screens, Regina was wearing a hideous giant white dress with what looked like a construction paper bow on the front. I have never seen Regina Spektor up close, but is she fat? She dresses like she weighs 200 pounds. Hmm, I just found this full body shot online:


So she’s definitely not fat, but she does seem a little conscious about her weight. That pose is definitely intended to cover something up. Look at how her arms are cutting in front of her body so you can’t really tell what’s going on below the waist. Here, this is what I look like when I assume the same pose:


Conclusion: Regina Spektor is one hippy hippie. Which, I’m not complaining. I don’t even know why I embarked on this battle, or why I spent the last fifteen minutes taking pictures of myself. Maybe it bothers me that her outfits and photographs and videos appear to be hiding something, but I guess I probably wouldn’t like people speculating about my weight on their blogs, so I’m going to drop it.

Back to the concert. Her backing band consisted of 2 cellists, a violinist, some other string instrument (viola?) and a drummer. She played the first half of the show with them behind her, and I was prepared to think it was a pretty average show. Her voice sounded great, but I didn’t get much from the performance that I haven’t already heard on her records. Also, after every song, someone in the audience screamed “I love you.” Which is not Regina’s fault, of course, but I just always find it monumentally creepy when people do that. You would never scream “I love you” at someone you actually loved. And then there’s always the embarrassing moment when the artist says, “I love you, too,” and everyone laughs as if they’ve never heard this exchange before, even though it’s ALWAYS THE FUCKING SAME. Just once I’d like to hear a performer say something other than, “I love you, too.” If I was a performer and someone said, “I love you,” I would say, “I think we should see other people.” Regina Spektor does not care that some random dude in the audience loves her, particularly when three other people just shouted the same thing at her during the previous song break. It’s no different to me than shouting “nice ass” at some woman on the street. It just makes everyone feel uncomfortable. When people scream, “I love you,” I hear, “I would like to murder you and dance around in your skin.” Because that’s what love means to me.

Halfway through the show, Regina stood up from her piano and walked across the stage. The spotlight did not follow her. “I’m in the dark,” she said, and the crowd exploded in peals of laughter. The spotlight came on. “Now I’m in the light,” she remarked, and the audience cheered, because it seemed like we’d all been through a real trial together. I cheered because I thought I might get to see some jumping after all.

There was no jumping, but my enjoyment of the concert went up decidedly after this moment. Regina played keyboard on a few songs, then did a really beautiful a cappella number about eye colors, and then she played guitar for a few songs, and then she returned to the piano to play piano with one hand and a chair with the other. She played a chair! I mean, she hit a chair with a drumstick. But it sounded all right.

I decided that Regina Spektor is a very talented musician. Some of her lyrics could use a little more thought. (Example: “Blue lips/blue veins/Blue the color of our planet from far, far away/Blue, the most human color.” Blue is not the most human color, because lips are not usually blue and the planet is not a human.) But then she has lyrics that seem really insightful and clever. So it’s a work in progress, I guess, but I think she has a lot of material left in her. I wasn’t crazy about her cutesy/quirky/awkward act, but I guess that’s what the people want to see. She’s wise enough to throw in a curse word every now and again to let us know she’s got some street in her. One of her songs was about her listening to someone in the next room “fucking to one of my songs,” and it was honestly somewhat shocking to hear her say the word “fucking.” It was a neat idea for a song. I’d be pretty pumped if I heard someone having sex to “Gay Roommate.”

We stayed for the encore, and she ended up playing the two songs I like the best – “Fidelity” and “Us.” Which, I know are the hits, but gimme a break. There’s no honor in loving a Regina Spektor deep cut. I’m not gonna be that guy who’s like, “I only listen to the B-sides.” Then we walked home and watched World’s Strictest Parents on MTV. That show rules.

Show length: 3 hours
Drinks consumed: 1 hot chocolate
Rock points: Jupiter One – disqualified; Regina Spektor – 7.5

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