Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me (Eight Years Later)

Vic Chesnutt & Kristen Hersh - Live at Old Music Hall, UW-Madison, Wisconsin (5/20/00) 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

My little sister gave me a great birthday present in 2000 - a ticket to see Vic Chesnutt and Kristen Hersh perform at the Old Music Hall on the UW campus in Madison. It was a gorgeous night, perfect May in Wisconsin weather, and I was hoping for something good.

I got something great. In fact, I got some of the finest music I've ever heard in my life. Vic played a grand piano and Kristen guitar, alternating songs and banter all night long. The energy between them was weird and hilarious; they were loving being on that stage together and were practically giggling. If I understood it right, the piano was a new thing for Vic and he was improvising all night on it; he'd never played some or most or any of the tunes with piano before. (I could be wrong about this, but that's the impression from the time). I cannot describe with crappy words how beautiful his playing was and how rich it sounded in the wonderful acoustic space that is Old Music Hall.

At some point during the show, near the end, a couple of incredibly wine-drunk neo-hippies start yelling. Then they were escorted outside. Where they broke wine bottles against the building and all over the steps. I hate hippies.

I stuck around afterward to chat with Vic. To my surprise, he remembered me from the show in Kirksville, MO that My Smart Wife and I had met him at about 6 years earlier. (See my earlier post about Vic for more on that night). We talked some more about poetry and music and I bought a CD from him. Hopefully we can meet again after another concert soon and continue this protracted poetical discussion.

Technically, this is probably the finest sounding bootleg in my collection. I've got thousands and there is not one that sounds better. It's a digital recording, soundboard I think, but it somehow manages to capture the feel of the room too. Freakin' incredible. I hope you kids enjoy it.

And buy shit!


Anonymous said...

Just ran across this Friday. I saw Kristin & Vic's show in Los Angeles a few weeks later, familiar with her but not with him. I had never been able to find a recording of one of their shows on the internet, so it was a nice surprise to try the search again the other day and discover this, and then to hear it sound so great is even better. Thanks for posting it. It's heartbreaking to think about now, but it's good to hear what he sounded like during (hopefully) better times.

gomonkeygo said...

I think I'll have to pull this show out again. It was a magical night and one that can never be repeated again. Glad you enjoyed it.

you and me in the echo said...

this is great, thanks a lot for sharing!