Saturday, June 13, 2009

Maria Taylor, Johnathan Rice and Nik Freitas at The Paradise, June 23, 2008 at the Paradise

Maria Taylor serenaded her fans at the Paradise on Monday, June 23, along with friends Johnathan Rice and Nik Freitas. Like the intermingling indie circle at Saddle Creek, each musician played in each other’s live bands. The music was more stripped down then their recorded siblings, sticking to an electric and acoustic guitar, bass and drums, but it provided for a very personal concert experience.
The opener, Nik Freitas recorded all his albums himself, before joining Team Love Records and Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band. He tracked his latest release, Sun Down at his house in Pasadena, for the most part recording every instrument himself. In accordance with his singular style, Freitas played most of the set alone. It was just him and his acoustic guitar, strapped around him with a belt and coat hanger. He played fast and slow tunes without a pick and with painless precision.

During "Sophie", his voice heaved like Bob Dylan and he plucked his guitar with adeptness similar to Elliott Smith. "All the Way Down" felt like a jive down Sesame Street, an innocent and playful song that would make you want to dance.

Johnathan Rice began his set with a few cowboy songs including "Further North", the title track of his latest release, backed by Taylor on drums and Freitas on guitar. A few songs later, Rice took the stage alone to play some ballads. He bellowed sweetly along to the counterintuitive message of "It is Best to Keep it All Inside."
Rice’s stage presence gave a little extra flavor to his sets. Whereas Freitas’s and Taylor’s felt like an intimate display of emotion, Rice’s was personal in another way. He would take the time to crack a joke or tell a story before songs. “I have to apologize because the last few times I was in Boston, I was in sorry shape,” Rice began toward the end of his set, referring to how drunk he had been. “But, I’ve been drinking naked juices all day. I’m seeing Boston clear and … it’s looking alright!”
The sarcasm of his personality matches his music, with ironically upbeat tunes about death, like "We’re All Stuck Out in the Desert (and We’re Going to Die)", which ended Rice’s set. He called it the "feel bad hit of the summer."
Before giving her set "A Good Start", which she opened with, Maria Taylor in her blueberry dress declared, “I’ve had way too many cigarettes today.” She whispered with entrancing vitality, while strumming her hollow body electric guitar. Seeing Taylor live enhances the sweetness and innocence of her songwriting. The acoustic guitar, played by Taylor Hollingsworth, had a white body and was decorated with playful sharpie patterns.

She then bounced into "Lady Luck", which she said would be the title track of the new record she was working on, which has an undetermined release date. The standout new song she played was "Orchids". After the show, we went out in front of the Paradise to talk while Taylor had another cigarette. She said "Orchids" is her favorite new one to play because “It’s a quiet song and it’s really nice when we all come in together." Taylor said she went all out on the production of the new record, including full string and woodwind sections.
A cover of The Carpenters song "The End of the World" was given new life by Taylor’s ethereal vocals. Before the encore, the band rocked out to a riotous, distorted jam version of "Xanax". Afterward, Taylor took the stage to perform alone, playing requests from the audience. She explained why her guitar was duct taped together, telling a story about their last show in Kingston where they all got rowdy and woke up with bruises and broken instruments.

Looking toward the future, Taylor wants to get something together with her sister, Kate, and her brother, Macey. “Family band: 2010!” she said.
~Lee Stepien
Photography by Ben Weitzenkorn
Published to on June 23, 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment