Not going to lie... I'm kind of in a state of euphoria right now after a night of back-to-back (ok, I totally indulged in some Shake Shack in between) concerts courtesy of Joe Iconis and Ryan Scott Oliver. Too much of a good thing? Never! Though I have to admit I think concentrating so much in a relatively short period of time is pushing things a bit.
Both shows though were awe-inspiring, some of the best performances I have seen of either composer yet. For a free event, Joe put on a wonderful, fully-realized set with a diverse sampling of his musical abilities. A combination of tunes from The Black Suits, Bloodsong of Love, The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks, and many stand alone songs from Things to Ruin and Rock 'n Roll jamboree, I was thrilled to witness an audience, many who seemed new to Joe's songs, get to experience a thorough sampling of his work. With Krysta Rodriguez, Lance Rubin, Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams, and Katrina Rose Dideriksen rocking the mics, there was little need (not that I don't miss the rest of the band) for more than the piano and the powerful voices to fill that auditorium and perhaps spill into the rest of the library.
Something I remembered through this performance is how amazingly Joe is able to capture youth in his songs, from the most angsty moments to the most sincere, from the silliest to the most heartbreaking. All of them are underscored, though, by a simple truth, the validity of a specific perspective that almost always puts the driver right in the passenger seat alongside the performer. They are in on all the jokes, and they feel the weight of all the confusion. There isn't a moment when a song isn't trying to express something, to show a psychology or process behind someone's actions. The characters are often flawed and hardly ever are those flaws without consequence or introspection, and regardless of the fact that Joe didn't provide much context for these songs in the interview portions, the way they took shape for themselves only served as a testament to his craft. Watching host John Znidarsic's face throughout the performances was really gratifying; he gladly went along for the ride and commented himself about how impressed he was with the journey he ended up taking.
Rated RSO was a bit more of a whirlwind, but it was one of the most beautiful storms I could have possibly weathered. It was every kind of artform combined into one: the images from the 35 MM project, the acting skills of the likes of Lindsay Mendez and Alex Brightman, the full-bodied music provided by an amazing band, the pure voices of talents like Natalie Weiss and Eric Michael Krop, and finally the sheer artistry of Ryan's lyrics made this show a feast for the senses. The songs were varied in style and context, but each of them had a confidence and twistedness that was perfectly in the RSO style. Every one of the songs created a little world within themselves, daring the audience to come in and even making them fear the thought of leaving those worlds behind.
I think what shows like tonight's remind me of is the beauty of musical theatre, not only in the art of writing music and lyrics but in the beauty of it in performance. The temporary nature of it makes the experience unique and special, while also reminding us of the importance of enjoying simple pleasures while they last. This medium combines so many elements that express the incommunicable. I feel lucky to have gotten a chance to see what I did tonight, and I only wish that everyone can find opportunities to find experiences like this for themselves.
I don't really have any links or videos for this entry, though as soon as concert footage finds its way to interwebs, I'll be sure to link to it. In the meantime, I thank you for letting me rant, and look forward to getting to blab on about even more new talents in the near future.