Photo by Caleb Kuhl
Ingrid Michaelson @Pantages Nov. 17, 2008
Of course Ingrid Michaelson can sing, but damn can she talk. And talk. And talk. Hilarious, a little crazy and borderline awkward, Michaelson took crowd interaction unconsciously serious, rambling about everything from the MOA’s rollercoaster to ninjas, to her hips in flannel pants and her breasts. In fact, Michaelson did so much gabbing, she was forced to skip two songs and shorten the encore to end her hour and a half set. I have a feeling this wasn’t the first time.
A show with more call-and-response attempts than I’ve ever heard before, Michaelson put it best when she said, “I guess I should’ve given you guys song sheets.” Prompting each attempt with wacky stories, she was able to persuade people to do what she asked, singing two or three words here and there. Her tricks included phrases like, “Put your musical breast in my hand”, “Sing this one with all of your Avril Lavigne-like anger” and “Pretend you’re a seven-year old girl and I’m a fairy.” Totally weird, yet somehow still simple and sweet...
Regardless of how much her mouth moved, the Staten Island singer was wonderful and charmed the pants, and skirts, off the diverse crowd filling the Pantages Theater. One junior high girl to my right had the words “Be OK” drawn on her face, just as Michaelson has done on her latest CD cover. Others screamed like sorority girls between songs, and some guys clapped really loud whenever she mentioned boobs. And still other audience members behaved and simply grinned. Making light of the venue’s serious, sit-down aura, Michaelson improvised a few opera-like scales and even took advantage of the acoustics while talking, or shouting, in strange accents. “Die Alone” started out the night, followed by a nice mix of songs from her both her albums.
The best song of the night was her cover was Radiohead’s “Creep”. Michaelson stood center stage, donning a cheery red scarf and fashionable fedora, while the lyrics of the song spilled from her lips, lonely and disarming at the same time. Such opposite of everything she creates, “Creep” was a beautiful reality check within her lovesick repertoire. Other stellar songs were predictably, “The Way I am” and “Breakable”, but then again I’m a sucker for the girl-meets-boy tracks.
Like most other solo singers on tour, Michaelson was accompanied by a full band, including guys on drums and bass and ladies on electric and acoustic guitar who also sang wonderful vocal harmonies. While the band did serve its purpose in providing a pleasant, rich sound, Michaelson seemed to not need them. The songs she played alone while simply strumming her ukulele, such as “What Would I Do” and “Corner of Your Heart” were not only the most stunning, but were best at doing what her songs are meant to do: tug at your cheesy, aching heart strings.
-- Amber Schadewald