Every time The Magnetic Fields play in Austin they upgrade from the previous venue. This time it was at the Paramount and I wasn't surprised to see the orchestra section full and a good chunk of the balcony occupied. It was also old-home week as I chatted with several people I haven't seen in years. I'm generally not a fan of seated venues - too staid - but it works for MF. They haven't had a rhythm section for 14 years and play at a moderate volume and tempo.
After a fun set of very short, nonfiction stories and very short, news-of-the-day songs (with a slide projector providing visuals) by , MF took the stage. Before the first song, Claudia asked the audience, "Are you ready to rock?" To which Stephin replied, "Then go somewhere else." Ba-dump bump crash (cymbal). Aside from the actual songs, Claudia and Stephin's banter provide a good bit of the entertainment.
Of note was the debut of Stephin's new bouzouki purchased that day. The previous one had grown fatigued. This reminded me of the throwaway gag in This Is Spinal Tap when the manager Ian rants about how hard he works for the band to little appreciation, "Do you know what I spend my time doing? I sleep two or three hours a night. There's no sex and drugs for Ian, David. Do you know what I do? I find lost luggage. I locate mandolin strings in the middle of Austin!" Which is very funny to me because it was and remains tremendously easy to find mandolin strings in Austin. Less so with new bouzoukis but still.
Also, though Claudia is terribly excited by the idea of Holiday coming out on vinyl because she loves the cover, it will not be the next vinyl release. That will be 69LS next year to celebrate the 10-year anniversary. I hope it comes with a big version of the little book.
Setlist (with notes):
When I'm Out of Town
No One Will Ever Love You
Dear lord do I love Shirley's voice.
Lots of laughs for this one.
Walking My Gargoyle
Claudia: Sadly The Tragic Treasury sold out tonight making several songs less...
The Nun's Litany
All My Little Words
I Wish I Had an Evil Twin
This Little Ukulele
Personal freak-out as I adore this song.
All Dressed Up in Dreams
Wonderful harmonizing from the ladies.
Claudia: This song is about two homosexuals in the East Village throwing shit at each other. Verbally. Like "Uh-uh Mary."
Stephin executes pro-forma, entirely sass-less Z snap to the delight of all.
Several aborted starts as Stephin interrupted to say things like, "Everyone is someone's
Papa Was a Rodeo
Swoons all around.
Take Ecstasy With Me
Strangled screams of pleasure from some.
Love this! Creepy, weird, and wonderful.
The Tiny Goat
As always, heartbreaking.
Too Drunk to Dream
Raucous adoration for this one.
The Book of Love
Sam looked particularly sentimental here.
Give Me Back My Dreams
Drive On Driver
What a Fucking Lovely Day!
Introduced, "So Tu An-Gu has just impaled what he thinks is the orphan of Zhao and then he sings this."
Yeah, Oh Yeah
With Claudia swanning about the stage
It's Only Time
Claudia notes that after the previous murder ballads, this one is often played at weddings. To which Stephin added, "Before the murder ballads begin."
First "Three-way" just Stephin, John, and Sam. 2nd was Claudia, Shirley, and an
out-of-the-wings Michael Hearst. 3rd was really a six-way.
As You Turn to Go
Musically gorgeous (aside from that mic short explosion that startled everyone), attentive audience, great setlist; it was a wonderful show and exceeded my expectations.