St. Vincent, Foreign Born, and Basia Bulat at The Middle East Downstairs

Last night I saw St. Vincent with Foreign Born and Basia Bulat at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge.

Basia Bulat were first up. I’d never really heard of them (well her), but before the show I checked out a little home-made video of them playing at some university. If I had to classify them, I guess I’d call them folk rock… ukelele, autoharp, viola… Their stuff isn’t my usual fare, but they were really good. Basia has a really strong voice. The crowd went crazy for them.


Basia Bulat

Foreign Born didn’t do much for me. I liked some of their sounds, but there were no compelling songs to go with them. The frontman seemed pretty pretentious, poor guy. Something about them made me think that a 90s comeback is around the corner (yeah, already)… lots of guitars all smashing together… effects and lots of one guitarist backing into another.

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Foreign Born

St. Vincent was nothing less than brilliant. Lovely and talented definitely describes her. She’s such a pretty little pixie and her voice is just perfect. She’s got such a perfect edge… funny, wry, smart. And the girl totally rocks. Her guitar playing was a little bit of a revelation. I detected bits of Prince (and therefore Hendrix) in there. There were mad fans in the audience. The guy next to me kept yelling “Marry me!!!” and “Babysit me!!!” and shouting for songs. I’m glad he had a good time–really, it’s good that people show the love for truly good artists–but his loud singing during some songs did get annoying and I had to shield my camera from his flailing at points.

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St. Vincent, rocking

She and her mates played the vast majority of the tunes on her record, including two of my favorites, “All My Stars Aligned” and “Human Racing.” She also threw in a cover of the Beatles “I Dig a Pony,” which was just perfect for her. I guess she’s been doing that at most of her shows. The main set finished with “Paris Is Burning,” which was just awesome. Oh yeah, and Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls joined her on stage for “Marry Me.” Alas, the mike didn’t seem to be set right for Amanda, so you couldn’t really hear her. It seemed semi-impromptu… I’m not sure Ms. Palmer even knew all the words. (Okay, so she should have as she’s covered it before, apparently.)

3 thoughts on “St. Vincent, Foreign Born, and Basia Bulat at The Middle East Downstairs”

  1. Yo!
    Just gotta give you a pat on the back for your live music photography. It’s challenging…the light is usually iffy, the people are moving a lot, etc. You really do a great job at it, and you keep getting better. The photos of the 3 acts above are phenomenal…you should contact them all and see if you can sell the photos to them.

  2. *Blush* Thanks, John. I really respect your opinion on these things, so your praise means a lot. Ez got me a couple new lenses for Christmas (which I may have mentioned), and they make the light slightly easier to manage–but they present new composition challenges for me, as my other lens is a zoom. There were quite a few photographers at the show.

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