Väsen @ Town Hall Seattle (3/20/11)

I used to think “completionist” was a word. I learned a few years ago that it’s gibberish; the real word is “completist”. But that has nothing to do with anything. What I really want to talk about is the fact that I’ve been on Vox and WordPress for over four years and I’ve documented every live musical performance I’ve witnessed during that time. A quick look at my “concert reviews” tag turns up 67 posts.

Well, I must admit that I haven’t actually documented every concert. There should be 69 concert reviews, not 67. I skipped over two shows I went to during my most recent trip to Seattle back in March. I had my reasons for skipping them, but I’ve felt bad about it for most of April and May. Yes, this is the kind of thing that bothers me. Maybe I really am one of those words I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Or maybe I’m something else entirely.

So I’ve decided to go back and write about the two missing shows.

The first one was by a Swedish folk band called Väsen. The trio consists of Roger Tallroth on 12-string guitar, Mikael Marin on viola, and Olov Johansson on a traditional Swedish instrument called the nyckelharpa. They played at Seattle’s Town Hall, a beautiful old church that reopened as a performance hall in the late 90s. It’s got vaulted ceilings and a dome that somehow combine to give the place great acoustics for live music.

The show took place on a Sunday night. Neither of us really wanted to go. It was one of those nights that are usually better served by staying in with pizza and a movie. I hate wasting money, though, so I insisted we head down to Town Hall so we’d at least get something for the $36 already spent on the tickets.

So we went on down and saw the Väsen show.  I’m very glad we went.  Although I’d never heard this kind of music before, I must admit that I liked it.  All of their songs were instrumental and most of them seemed to be polska. That’s a kind of traditional music that typically accompanies partner dances in Sweden and the surrounding countries. There was a wedding polksa, a polska about a botanist, a polska about Indiana, etc. I think they may have even played “Eklunda Polska #3” (shown here in a video recorded in California the night before):

Despite the fact that this was music for dancing, not a single person danced at Town Hall. That’s sort of a shame as the music had a driving pulse to it that really made me want to get up and do a jig or something. It didn’t happen, though. We all sat quietly in our pews and showed the band unprecedented respect. Nobody spoke. I didn’t see a single person whip out their phone or take a picture the entire night. This was probably the politest, most well-behaved audience I’ve ever been a part of. If you ever want to see a concert without all the annoying people, just go see traditional Swedish music performed in an old refurbished church. If you want to dance to it, be sure to buy the CD and do it in the privacy of your own home.

Here are two pictures taken outside the venue after the show. I’ve also included scans of the ticket, a promotional flyer, and an information sheet about the band.

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12 Responses to Väsen @ Town Hall Seattle (3/20/11)

  1. Lauri says:

    I love live music but I do not get out to experience it very often. I am not sure why that is. Whenever I do go I really enjoy it, just about any kind of music!
    I enjoy all your concert posts.

    Was it a letdown to the band to have such a “polite” audience, or did that feel proper?

    • M-----l says:

      I usually only enjoy live music if I’m already familiar with the band and can sing along with their songs (in my head, of course). That’s why I was so surprised that I enjoyed Väsen; I didn’t know their music going in, and they didn’t have any lyrics to sing along with, but I still had a great time at their concert.

      It was not a letdown to be part of a polite audience. It was exactly the kind of audience I needed on a sleepy Sunday night after a long, chaotic week.

  2. Maybe the audience was filled with ex-Minnesotans, who are also polite and who don’t dance, especially in a church, former or otherwise. (Once in a while you’ll get some guy who tries to buck the rule and show that Minnesotans can dance, though it’s often painfully embarrassing to watch.) Or the average age of the people there was over 40. Older audiences tend to remember (most times) that they’re not sitting in front of a TV. Then again, the last two times I went out to see a movie, I sat near or next to an old guy who couldn’t keep his mouth shut and provided non-stop narration all through the film.

    I dunno. I guess you were just exceptionally lucky, unless you thought the audience was boring.

    • M-----l says:

      Now that I think of it, most of the bad audiences I’ve been a part of have been in Ohio or Kentucky. The audiences out in Seattle (and the one time I went to Portland) have generally been well-behaved…even at the rock shows. Maybe the audiences out there are too cool and jaded to be ill-behaved. A lot of touring bands skip right over my town, so we get super excited and drunk whenever a band deems us worthy of a stop-over. Excitement + alcohol = jerky behavior?

      I don’t know. I’m just thinking aloud here.

      In this case, I think the audience was polite mostly because it was a Sunday night in a church and the band wasn’t exactly the kind you’d hoot and holler for. It felt like a classy affair. And the average age was a bit older than I usually see. Whatever the reason, it was a nice night of music with a good audience that didn’t detract from what was happening onstage.

  3. sailorbabo says:

    I was there! I was there! They snuck me in!

  4. I went to see the Magnetic Fields in Town Hall once. I remember being very uncomfortable because 3 girls decided to squeeze into a spot made for one comfortable, two tightly in the pugh next to me. I think I complained about it on Vox, It was the concert where a girl actually sat on my own ass, the skin on my bum and thighs were squished below her.

    • M-----l says:

      The Magnetic Fields at Town Hall sounds like a great combination of band and venue. I think I remember reading that post. You should have pointed out to the girls that the pews were numbered and they’re only allowed as many people in a row as there are numbers. Or you could’ve just thrown an elbow or two. That usually works.

      • phantomxii says:

        It’s funny you should mention “an elbow or two”. I just put on some Elbow. Did you know they also have a new album? Sorry, that has nothing to do with your post. Here I am barging into your comments with a digression, just like an unruly audience member. So: the show sounds great, and I’m impressed with their playing. I like to hear traditional music presented well. Also, I think Väsen and Visqueen should get together. They could be…I don’t know, Visine or something.

        • M-----l says:

          Booo! to Visine, but Yeah! to Elbow. I found a used copy of the new one at Everybody’s a couple weeks ago. I tried to buy it, but it looked like the previous owner had handled it just second after dipping their hand into a jar of Vaseline. The disc was covered with greasy prints.

  5. Pingback: the Pilot Lights @ the Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater (3/23/11) | Outgoing Signals

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