Saturday, June 16, 2012

In the Big City: A Night with John and Jonathan

I know, I know, this blog post is way overdue.  I meant to do it last weekend, and time got away from me as we were preparing for vacation.

Shortly after Hubby and I got married, he introduced me to the musical stylings of a guy named Jonathon Coulton.  Jonathan used to be a computer guy, with musical dreams.  He took a leap of faith and left his programming job to follow those dreams.  His early songs contain lyrics that really appeal to the geek culture, on topics such as robots, zombies, and (surprise) computer programmers.  He completed a project called Thing a Week, where each week he wrote a new song, many of which are pure brilliance.  His newest album features songs which seem a bit more mature, deeper, and heartfelt, although the same can be said for many of his older songs as well.

Last fall, we got to see Jonathan open for They Might Be Giants.  While the concert as a whole was great, we totally enjoyed his opening act more than the headline performance.  It was then that we vowed that if JoCo ever came to Pittsburgh as a headliner, we would, without a doubt, go see him.  We found out that JoCo was in fact going to be in Pittsburgh this summer, and despite the fact that his show was a mere 3 days before we were leaving for vacation, tickets were purchased fortwith.  As the days, hours, then minutes to the show ticked away, I could barely contain my excitement.

We arrived at the the venue, Rex Theater, five minutes after the doors opened.  This means we got right up to the stage.  This is an intimate feeling venue to begin with, but being at the front was tantamount to being at a little coffee shop performance.  I could just tell this was going to be amazing.

As the show time arrived, I noticed this guy casually taking the stage, tuning a guitar, and I thought, man, that is a burly looking sound guy.  Silly me, that was no sound guy, that was John Roderick, lead singer of the band The Long Winters, and my new fangirl crush.  He started talking a bit, and really engaged the audience.  He asked for a request for his first song, and someone yelled out "Cinnamon" (video is not from my show, but another show in the tour).  He sang the song, and Hubby and I became instant lifelong fans.  His voice is so pure, and mellow.  And his singing is so earnest, honest, and unrestrained.  He clearly loves what he does, and has fun every time he performs.  Not to mention there is something incredibly romantic about his performance.



  Don't just take my word for it, view the video I shot. I wish I had shot more, he was that amazing.


Once he was finished, there was a short break, and then the man himself, Jonathan Coulton took the stage.  I may have squealed a time or two.  Or ten.  I make no bones about the fact that Hubby and I are geeks, but we were in good company, as this was a room full of geeky awesome people, and JoCo was our king.

Jonathan's music is fun, and musically quite intricate.  His songs are really so full of heart, packaged in such a way that us nerdy types will relate.  And a lot of his music is just really really fun.  Again, here is someone who clearly loves performing.



I was happy that he played a lot of his old standards, as well as cuts from his newest album, Artificial Heart. He did a good blend of silly songs and serious songs, playing some of our favorites of each type. He even let "his henchman" sing a song, which was excellent.

 Once again, do not take my word for it that JoCo is amazing. Listen for yourself.

Both John and Jonathan put up with a lot of ribbing from the crowd. Nerd type people often do not realize when a joke has gone too far, and are prone to perfecting the art of beating a dead horse.  As a result, there were way too many jokes about the performers ordering us pizza, based off of John's quip about a burgh based pizzaria named Pizzaburgh, mentioned in the opening act. Still, the guys all took the jokes in stride, and I felt like they both made a real effort to connect with the audience, which contained all ages. I was standing near a father who was with his preteen son and teen son, all three singing the words, and Jonathan spoke to the youngest son during the show. You could tell it made that kid's night.

The show ended with John taking the stage with Jonathan and his band, to sing some songs together, including their duet from the Artificial Heart album, Nemeses.

And then, the best show closer ever, they played a cover of Bad Company's Feel Like Making Love (this video is not from my show but another show during the tour, still, you get the idea).  It was nothing short of amazing, and I am still kicking myself for not recording it.  John Roderick was playing a broken guitar, and he still kicked major tail.

The show was nothing short of pure magic.  We stayed after to meet John Roderick, and buy one of The Long Winters' albums, which he happily autographed.  We wanted to wait for JoCo, but we were exhausted and still had a long drive home, so sadly, we had to leave.

Since the concert, over a week ago, I have listened to pretty much nothing but the Jonathan Coulton station on Pandora (to which I also added The Long Winters), and I cannot wait until I can see both of these amazing performers in concert again.