Last night’s Vienna Teng concert at the Freight & Salvage, which I watched on livestream, was lovely.
The opening act was a singer/songwriter named Alex Wong, a friend and collaborator of Teng’s. I completely forgot about the concert until 45 minutes after the start time, so I missed most of his performance, but I liked what I saw. (If I still have access to the video, I might go back and watch the rest of it today.)
Teng performed several of her previously recorded songs, and several new as-yet-unrecorded ones. Some notes:
- “City Hall” is still my favorite of hers, after all these years—I first heard it on the radio back in 2006 or so (I had never heard of Teng nor heard her music before that), and it still makes me cry even though it’s (let’s hope) now outdated. (When I first heard it, my thought process went, more or less: Hey, this almost sounds like it’s a song about the same-sex weddings in San Francisco in 2004—wow, it is a song about that!—who is this performer?)
- A couple of the newer pieces involved her recording material into her keyboard right there on stage, then playing back the recording while playing and singing another part. I’m guessing that live performers must do this regularly, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it before, and I found it really cool. I think for one of the songs she recorded three or four backing loops (if that’s the right phrase)—maybe two or three instrumental parts and one wordless vocal part—and then sang and played another part while those recorded bits played back.
- A couple of the newer pieces involved a nifty instrument that Wong had given her. Teng indicated that she still didn’t know what it was; someone in livestream comments said that it was “THE PIPE,” a “voice / breath / mouth-controlled dynamic FX processor and synthesizer.” It made very pretty sounds.
- I think my favorite of the newer songs was one called “We Got You,” which she said that she wrote as a mashup—more or less two songs to be sung together, with two different meanings of the title. One is a comfort/reassurance song, with the idea that we the community are here to support/hold you; the other is about someone’s leadership—we’re glad that we’ve got you to lead us. A neat idea, and I mostly liked how she executed it (sang one part to let us hear it by itself; sang the other part while recording it; played back the recording of the second part while singing the first part again), though the audio of the recorded part was a little quiet.
- I often can’t hear Teng’s words very well in her songs, but this time I looked up lyrics as she sang each of the older songs, and got a lot more out of them than I sometimes have in the past.
- Two small a cappella groups in the audience came onstage and performed Teng’s “Hymn of Acxiom”; Teng stood off to the side near them and sang with them (after asking them if that was okay).
- Teng did a couple of duets with Wong, both during his set and during hers.
- There were lots of other good things that I’m leaving out.
Really nice to be able to watch this from home. Yay Vienna Teng! Yay Freight & Salvage!