|Elvis Perkins | The Chapel|
Last Saturday night Elvis Perkins played The Chapel on Valencia in San Francisco. I was stoked for the show and on a vintage store we happened upon. I scored an amazing Troy Robe blanket, as well as, an Ely western shirt with pearl snaps, thanks Schauplatz. Feeling like a bandit we made our way into the venue. I was really into the use of space. The Chapel has a minimalistic layout. An old choir balcony has been transformed into a bar with the best seats in the house. The spot you should go to if arriving early. With limited seating and an aura of intimacy, The Chapel seems worthy.
The Mukluks consist of Peter Bingen and Monique Wentzel. They play soft and tell stories over the smooth hum of a lone guitar, or even a dulcimer. For as awesome as the venue was, the crowd left a lot to be desired. Rude is when the audience fails to realize they are not the attraction. I felt bad for the artists. I heard a young man next to me say, "worst audience ever." Another women shouted, "shut-up." Peter used the outburst to loosen tension by asking comically, "was that meant for us."
This was my first time seeing Elvis Perkins live. As he and his band-mates moved from the green-room staircase to their places on-stage, I was seeing a different portrait than the one I had imagined. His moppy appearance was juxtaposed by his tucked-in shirt. Sauntering to the mic he tuned-up while beginning to tell us that he had lost his grandmother in Marrakesh earlier in the day. With the sadness of such a statement he did an amazing job of sharing both feeling and memories. His presence was warm like the pink jacket he was sporting. The same pink that his Grandmother had made fashionable in the 30's. The gravity of such news most likely set the subdued tone for what would be an adult lullaby throughout the night.
"Good Friday" began with the warmth of a harmonium. His voice is the type that you want to hear. This was a good first song with a bit of pace. A little later he played "On Rotation" from his new album, I Aubade. It was clear early on that keyboardist, Mitchell Robe, was more than capable of working remote, yet strong nuances into each song—making them better, richer, more like the score of a film. A couple of tracks passed before we heard, "My Kind," which incorporated some sly slap-drumming. The song's persistence unfolded, evolving with the Moog to a spookier side. Once again the keys were killing it. The next number sounded off with Elvis showcasing his harmonica.
As the trio made fairytale like music, Mr. Perkins offered us the chance at nostalgia. He would play "Sleep Sandwich," off of his record, Ash Wednesday. Then came "Gasolina," another new one. My favorite song of the night was next, a rousing version of "Hey." The band was playing rock and roll on this one as Elvis sang, 'I'll take you anywhere.' An autoharp appeared as the bassist switched instruments. "Doomsday" turned out to be a display of vocal prowess, Elvis' voice was entirely captivating. The same guitar he picked all night was the main tool in building one song onto the other. "My $2," "Hogus Pogus," and "The Passage of the Black Genie," allowed for detours with Perkins playing flute while the bassist hit the vibes. The striker at the space station stayed put behind the veil of keys, knobs, and Moog trickery. "Shampoo," the hit track from ...In Dearland confirmed the crescendo. They all sizzled while he pleaded, 'you are worth your weight in gold, you are worth your weigh in sorrow.' The words to "Shampoo" mean something to me. I cannot explain it. My only hope is that I'm worth my weight.
He would encore with "While You Were Sleeping," beginning solo before the band reemerged. The finisher, if you will, was the opening lyrics to the last song of the night, "All Today."
Oh to be somewhere
Or somebody else
Oh to have someone
All to myself
Say that you love me
Say good lines
Say the love you have
Won't never die
Just drop the mic Elvis. eightychoices.