Wednesday, June 21, 2006


It's been a few months since I first heard a song on our local radio station by Brandi Carlile. I was in the car and when I got home I immediately went to Rhapsody to do a search. We listened to the entire album that night and have been listening to it almost nightly ever since.

Despite my current poor financial situation I was compelled to purchase tickets when I saw she was going to play a gig here in Austin. I can't even remember the last time we went to a concert but there are certain artists that I find so incredibly talented that I cannot pass up an opportunity to see them live. (Fiona Apple is another such artist-- we will be seeing her on July 6.)

We arrived at The Parish, a small upstairs club in downtown Austin, around 8:30. As expected, it was like walking into a lesbian bar. We waited about 30 minutes before Gran Bel Fisher took the stage for his opening set. He's a very talented 24-year-old with a voice that can, at times, be compared to Jim Morrison.

It was awhile between sets before Brandi Carlile appeared. We trudged through the dyke-infested crowd to take a position at the far right front of the stage which afforded a great view of everyone but the drummer, obscured from my view by a column at the stage. With a capacity of 400, the club was small and intimate enough that any position was a good one. But I do like being close enough to see facial expressions.

A woman tapped me on the back and said, "Wow, are you like the only guys here?" Obviously we weren't but we were clearly in the minority in terms of our sex, but not our orientation.

Finally, Brandi and her band appeared. Their opening number was Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a Changin" which resonated as an uplifting political statement in this crowd. For the next 90 minutes I was unable to move except for a quick race to the nearby men's room which, thanks to the crowd demographics, was always empty! What a perk for us guys!!

One very unique aspect of her band which caught me by surprise were the highly animated identical twins with shaved heads flanking Brandi -- Tim on guitar, and Phil on bass. It was quite a surreal and unforgettable visual straight from a David Lynch dream. Some of the more vocal lesbians in the crown got louder as more alcohol was consumed and there were the standard yells from the crowd between songs of "You're HOT Brandi!" and requests for her to come for a "sleepover." Txrad commented that some lesbians, when horny and drunk, behave remarkably similar to macho heterosexual men at a female mud-wrestling event.

Not to be outdone by the dyke contingent, during a short break between songs I finally shouted out, "Gay guys love you too!" Brandi immediately grabbed her bassist, pulling him next to her and said "I thought they just loved Phil." My gaydar had already pegged him as one of us.

The encore was lengthy and mostly solo Brandi on guitar. It was supposed to be Brandi and her cello player, but he was ill from a food-poisoning incident. She said she was nervous to be up there solo without her cello player but she could not have seemed more confident and delivered an overall astounding performance.

After the show I decided to purchase the newly re-issued debut CD which includes 2 new versions of a song from the intial release, plus 2 bonus tracks. After listening free on Rhapsody countless times, it was time to claim ownership of this remarkable gem. They are working on a new CD, will probably record sometime in August, with T. Bone Burnett producing. I am waiting patiently.

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