January 12, 2007

Thao Nguyen Owns My Soul, and I'm Okay With That

Photo by Kiyomi.

Over last year I went to in excess of about 50 shows (or, at least, I'd like to think I did), the summer being the time when I went to the most. Usually I would be hanging about with not much to do in the evening and my best friend, Kiyomi, or I would say "screw it, let's go to a show," which, in reality, is way more then enough to get either of us to one of the local venues.

One eve we found ourselves at Monkey Mania, with a line up of bands who neither of us had heard of, but hey, it was better than staring at a computer screen. Well, almost a full line up of bands we hadn't heard. When looking up where we ought to go we both checked out Thao Nguyen's sound, and since she was the last person performing that night we wanted to see if it was worth it to stay. we both found songs we liked, so we decided to go.

The first four bands were good, but nothing to write home about. Between sets Kiyomi and I went outside to get some fresh air, because it was hella hot inside because 1) this was in the middle of the raging summer and 2) the owners of Monkey Mania didn't want the smell of smoke to filter into the place so they closed the door in the back (where everyone would smoke) and, in a room with no windows and only two doors, one of which is closed and the other that leads into another room, it becomes a sauna. That and it kinda smelled like cat piss (This was during Monkey Mania's decline into what it is today: not very much fun), which the heat did nothing but enhance it.

So between the 3rd and 4th (out of 5) Kiyomi and I were outside breathing and talking about the odd piece of un-identifiable meat on the sidewalk and Thao walks up to us with a small orange type thing in her hand (pre-peeled) and she offers us some "citrus." Kiyomi and I were more than glad to share some citrus with Thao, so we partook. She asked us who we were there to see, and we responded "you, actually." She look flattered and said "here, have more citrus."

By the time the 4 band took the stage, basically everyone had left. The first band had left after their set, and over the next few hours people just stopped coming in from the fresh air. So by the time Thao took the stage it was Kiyomi, myself, and the two solo acts prior to Thao. Because of this Thao came up to Kiyomi and I and asked us if there were any songs we wanted to hear. Since we had only heard the 4 songs on her myspace, we asked for our favorite ones (mine was City Sky, and hers was Feet Asleep). Thao said she wasn't planning on playing City Sky, but she will now.

She play with such ferocity/intensity it was almost like she was screaming the lyrics, but, really, I think it was just her singing ... REALLY REALLY loud. It was definitely worth staying in the cockroach infested, cat-piss-smell permeated, boiling venue.

A few months later it came time for the South Park Music Festival. Kiyomi and I, of course, planned on going, and when we got the list of artists who were gonna be there, we noticed that Thao Nguyen was returning! So, after a few days of the festival it finally came time for Thao's performance, and right before it Thao came in the room, e approached her, told her that we were those two people who saw her at Monkey Mania, and she promptly looked to her two friends who were with her and said "these are the guys I told you about." insanely flattered, Kiyomi and I offered her some oranges, which we had purchased on the way to Fairplay. She came off as highly flattered, accepted the oranges, and then we politely removed ourselves from the conversation so she could get set up to perform.

Her performance was, again, stunning. While she she didn't have a bass player and a drummer with her this time, she was still on top of her game. She even, at one point, got a guy who she had met directly before her set to come up and beat box to one of her songs (pictured above).

Since I purchased her CD at Monkey Mania it has been played quite, quite frequently. It soothes me. It makes me happy and giddy and polite.

Here are Kiyomi's favorite, my favorite, and one unreleased one she did (I think) with a band called The Get Down, Stay Down. That may just be something Thao made up, but hey, I like it.

Thao Nguyen - Feet Asleep
Thao Nguyen - City Sky (My favie)
Thao Nguyen w/ The Get Down, Stay Down - Swimming Pools

She also has a live set over at Daytrotter which I've can link you directly to here. I'm sure she'll update her myspace every once and a while too.


Anonymous said...

nice story. she seems like a nice person.

Anonymous said...

Thao is always nice to her fans. ;)
She has always been cool to me and remembered me from show to show, which is highly impressive.

Anonymous said...

PS City Sky is an AMAZING song. I'm with you on that as a fave.