October 13, 2012
The Wilshire Ebell, Los Angeles
I have a longstanding relationship with Aimee Mann’s music, one that I have written about more than a few times, and one that I can use as a memory map to track and trace times in my life by. Her music has been with me since my adolescence, and has never ceased to be a presence in my life. Here music is a big part of my life’s soundtrack.
Saturday night, at the Wilshire Ebell theatre, I got to see Aimee Mann performed live for the third time with one of my oldest and dearest friends, who I have also had quite a longstanding relationship with. We met in our adolescence, too, and though we have drifted apart at times, and lived at opposite sides of the States at other times, we have always remained a presence in each other’s life. It seems fitting that we shared this musical experience together, singing-a-long and reveling in the joy of seeing one of our favorite artist’s live.
One of the most delightful parts about seeing an Aimee Mann concert is her dry wit and casual, at times self-deprecating, always genuine rapport with the audience. It is easy to forget at times that one is part of an audience, in a venue, and not sitting in a living room, albeit a large one, casually being part of an evening together. She has a way of making the entire evening feel inclusive, whether it be actively taking requests for songs, explaining her frustration with a guitar that just would not tune, or being humorous, often at her own expense, in a way that makes everyone feel they are in on the joke.
One of my favorite moments of the night was before the last number, pre-encore, when she summed up the evening saying “I think we all had a good time … We rocked you in a mid-tempo way in the mid-Wilshire district. Two people told me they loved me, which was awesome.” It was a good time and the audience was filled with more than just two people who love her, it was obvious by the overall energy in the room, the standing ovation after the encore, the singing-a-long that was everywhere, and the chorus of requests that went out when she opened it up, asking what everyone wanted to hear.
Although I did not yell out any of my song requests, I did not need to, as Aimee performed my absolute favorite songs during her set, including lesser known tracks like Fourth of July (off of her first solo album Whatever), Deathly (from the album Bachelor No. 2), It’s Not (the last track on Lost In Space) and my absolute favorite of Aimee’s, You Could Make a Killing (featured on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack).
It’s Not was by request, and Aimee joked that it was her most depressing song ever, saying “because apparently somebody’s not depressed enough yet. I like to think this is my depressing song. It’s a wide field!” Though it is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, it is one of those songs that slips right into your heart and at least holds you in close while you are falling apart. I have said it before, and it bears repeating, sometimes sad songs are so necessary.
It was Aimee’s rendition of Wise Up, performed in the middle of the show when it was just her and an acoustic guitar, was the song that got to me the most. I was there in the dark crying my eyes out as the beautifully heartbreaking song wrapped itself around me, calling to mind both someone dear to me that I lost not too long ago, and my own current struggle deciding whether to make a possibly risky life change, or to stay stagnant, even as the stagnant now is failing, hoping for something to give. I felt internally touched as Aimee sang this song, as if the music and lyrics were helping to guide me in the midst of my feeling my own kind of lost in space. I was grateful for it, damn grateful.
Aimee performed quite a few songs off of her new album, Charmer, some that I enjoyed more than when I initially heard them on the album itself. My favorites of the night were Labrador, Slip and Roll and Living a Lie (which she sang, in duet, with the lead singer of opening band Field Report, Chris Porterfield). Aimee introduced Living a Lie to be written, together with fellow band mate Paul Ryan, in hopes to be part of a musical she is working on (and is rumored that she wants to write with Aaron Sorkin – which, oh my stars, just blows my mind thinking on).
My friend and I whispered to each other during the set, pointing out our favorites. After the show we discussed how much Aimee’s music means to us, comparing times we had seen her in the past, and agreeing that she puts on such an all-around fantastic show. We spoke on our own history with Aimee’s music, and traded stories of memory recalled moments that her songs had an intricate part in. My longstanding relationship with both my friend, and Aimee Mann’s music, continues on, growing truly after such a wonderful show.
You Could Make a Killing (live at the Wilshire Ebell, October 13, 2012)