There is nothing better than live music. It’s as simple as that. I had my first live encounter with Erin McKeown at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville, PA on March 20, 2009…the first day of spring, appropriately. She played solo, dressed all in white, and exuded more emotion and charisma than you think would be possible coming from someone so small! Don’t let that small stature fool you, this girl’s got some stage presence.
She came out on stage and went directly into “Aspera”, the first track off of We Will Become Like Birds. Who needs to waste any time, huh? The hook off of this song is based on ad astera per aspera, a Latin phrase for “to the stars through difficulties”.
She only played two songs, “”Rhode Island Is Famous For You” and “Coucou”, from her newest album, Sing You Sinners. She did, however, play quite a few songs from her album, Lafeyette, due out this fall. It’s refreshing to see an artist excited for a new album. Usually they’ll play one or two new songs to give you a taste, then get back to all the songs that you know and love. Erin McKeown doesn’t give a shit about you. She’s gonna get up there and play what she wants to play! (And we love her for it!)
She did bust out a few of the classics for long-time fans, though, including, “Cosmopolitans”, “Cinematic”, “The Little Cowboy”, “Blackbirds”, and “La Petit Mort”.
What’s awesome is that she rocked them all, old and new. She did the usual band/audience banter and told a few tales of her adventures in Pittsburgh. This is usually where I get disinterested and go smoke, but McKeown can definitely engage an audience. She told stories of heartache and love and laughter and family. A particular favorite of mine was a story she told regarding an interview earlier that day on WYEP, she’s doing the normal Q&A deal when she’s asked, “Will you ever do a holiday album?” Her simple answer: “No”. She’d rather do a Labor Day album, or Memorial Day. It’ll be “about picnics”.
And this another good reason why I love Erin McKeown. She’s so down to Earth. Hell, she’s her own merch girl! She’s the epitome of the “if it’s gonna get done right, better do it myself” mentality. And seriously, I want an Erin McKeown album about picnics.
The only thing that got me down about this show was the venue. The Thunderbird, well, it kinda sucks. The service was great, staff was friendly, but it’s incredibly small and awkwardly laid out. Thankfully, the owners must know this because there were flat screens in every room.
We did get to meet her after the show and she’s just so incredibly sweet, and so short, haha. I am a merch whore, so I bought two CDs and a t-shirt. All in all it was like $40? Not too bad for all that.
I would definitely go see her again. I’d like to maybe see her with a band, since I’ve now seen her solo, but I can vouch that her solo act is stellar. If you haven’t heard of this woman, check her out! Check her out, now!!!