With Only Son
Fillmore Miami Beach
November 17, 2012
Better Than: An Audrey Tatou movie marathon.
Last night, Regina Spektor -- the reigning queen of quirky, folky, and hyper-emotive piano pop -- filled the Fillmore Miami Beach to the brim and inflamed nearly one thousand separate smiles.
Opening act Only Son (AKA Jack Dishel) was a one-man band that managed to negate the entire charm of a one-man band. Typically, the appeal lies in some sort of skilled multitasking, usually via loops or dexterous multi-instrumentalism.
But Only Son's take on the form involved fully loaded backing tracks (drums, bass, synthesizer effects, soaring strings, etc.) accompanied with a little guitar here and there. On average, a fifth of the sounds you heard were happening live. And subsequently, the set felt a little amateurish.
Dishel can play and he can sing. He can write strong songs too. They sound like R.E.M. beefed up with Andrew Bird's orchestral oomph. However, he's doing himself a massive disservice by not finding a backup band or figuring out a more interesting way to deliver his material.
Regina Spektor, on the other hand, was accompanied by a drummer, a cellist and a keyboard player, all of whom perfectly framed her babbling-brook show tunes piano playing and highly literate (not to mention epically sentimental) lyrical content.
Emotional discharge is key to Spektor's formula. In fact, it appears that next to her obvious virtuosity, her confessional storytelling and romantic (in every sense) musings, may be her audience's favorite quality. They responded with equal abandon, screaming her name and fanatic shouts of praise, mixed with simple screams of "Thank You!!!" as well as less intelligible wails of adoration.
Regina also lived up to her quirky reputation. She squeaked minimally between songs in her distinct Bronx-by-way-of-Mother-Russia accent, and scatted like a jazz singer while her tasteful light show cycled through displays that mostly recalled the The Wizard of Oz's Emerald City or decorations at an "Under The Sea"-themed dance.
But the visual display was also well synced with the music for ominous mood-setting red hues for the more brooding numbers and dramatic blackouts save for Spektor's lone spotlight as a bold exclamation-point finale for many of the songs.
But ultimately, this was a performance about chops, which Regina Spektor has like Jay-Z's got problems. Moving through straightforward balladeering, Russian folk, synth-pop, and indie-orchestral bombast, this performer was nothing short of a maestro. We heard Elton John, Billy Joel, and Tori Amos before we realized any kind of genealogy would be impossible. Because Regina Spektor is in a league of her own.
The Crowd: Mostly women, polite people, nice kids, actual children, couples of all ages, begrudging boyfriends, folks with good jobs, All Songs Considered enthusiasts, librarians.
From the Crowd: "I love you!" was a phrase shrieked countless times by nearly the entire audience.
From the Stage: "You can find me on Twitter. And of course, Instagram. How can we talk about MySpace at a time like this? How could I not direct you to Facebook? And holy crap, there's YouTube too." - Jack Dishel, otherwise known as Only Son
Regina Spektor's Setlist:
-"Ain't No Cover"
-"On the Radio"
-"Small Town Moon"
-"Ode to Divorce"
-"All the Rowboats"
-"The Prayer of Francois Villon" (Bulat Okudzhava cover)
-"Call Them Brothers" (with Only Son)
-"Dance Anthem of the '80s"
-"Don't Leave Me"
-"Ballad of a Politician"
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