Live Reviews

Thao Nguyen: Bumbershoot [Live, 08.30.2008]

Thao Nguyen at Bumbershoot 2008, photo by Fense

As Thao Nguyen (MySpace) took the Rockstar Stage at Bumbershoot, I had déjà vu. You see, one year ago, I attended Bumbershoot and witnessed St. Vincent play solo in this very spot. As I lined her up in my camera sights, I flashed back to the present. Thao’s music is quite different from that of St. Vincent, yet both dabble lightly in folk-pop.

Like watching St. Vincent, prior to this year’s Bumbershoot I was only vaguely familiar with Nguyen’s music. I pulled “Bag Of Hammers” from some random location and downloaded her Daytrotter Session, but I hadn’t really digested either.

The folk-pop Thao plays is intricate, almost jammy, with a hip-swingin’ swagger. Likewise, her voice and lyrics are poppy and upbeat. Live, this translates into a pretty amazing performance. Standing so close, one gets the distinct impression they’re experiencing something unique—and they are.

Given a full 45-minute set of tunes off her recent We Brave Bee Stings And All, and a few of prior recordings, I decided to swing by Easy Street on the way home and pick up that album on vinyl. While it doesn’t hold up next to seeing Nguyen rock out live from five feet away—it’s damn near impossible to top a live performance—it does come with the excellent vinyl experience.

And now, next time I head out to see Nguyen perform (something I plan to do again sooner than later), I’ll know the songs she’s playing and can be one of the many that sings along.

Thao Nguyen: Bag Of Hammers [mp3]

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Click the image below to see more photos from Bumbershoot 2008. All photos by Fense.

Thao Nguyen at Bumbershoot 2008, photo by Fense

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