As Thao Nguyen (MySpace) took the Rockstar Stage at Bumbershoot, I had dÃ©jÃ 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. Thaoâ€™s music is quite different from that of St. Vincent, yet both dabble lightly in folk-pop.
Like watching St. Vincent, prior to this yearâ€™s Bumbershoot I was only vaguely familiar with Nguyenâ€™s music. I pulled â€œBag Of Hammersâ€ from some random location and downloaded her Daytrotter Session, but I hadnâ€™t really digested either.
The folk-pop Thao plays is intricate, almost jammy, with a hip-swinginâ€™ 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 theyâ€™re experiencing something uniqueâ€”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 doesnâ€™t hold up next to seeing Nguyen rock out live from five feet awayâ€”itâ€™s damn near impossible to top a live performanceâ€”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), Iâ€™ll know the songs sheâ€™s playing and can be one of the many that sings along.
Thao Nguyen: Bag Of Hammers [mp3]
[audio:0904_thao_nguyen_-_bag_of_hammers.mp3|titles=Bag Of Hammers|artists=Thao Nguyen]
Click the image below to see more photos from Bumbershoot 2008. All photos by Fense.