Live Review: Mi and L’au, Outlaw Con Bandana; Shelley Short tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 4:21 pm February 11, 2006

It was one of the funniest, weirdest moments in O’Leaver’s brief history. Outlaw Con Bandana came on at around 10:45, performing as a trio with frontman Brendan Hagberg, Matthew Rooney on upright bass and Pearl Lovejoy Boyd providing additional vocals. Chris Fischer, who’s listed as a band member on the band’s just-released 12-inch, was curiously absent. The absolutely packed crowd was respectful as Hagberg and Co. launched into a rich acoustic set of rural, turn-of-the-(last)-century-flavored folk ditties. Hagberg has a buttery croon that accentuates his Kerouac-meets-Guthrie road images. More on Outlaw in the near future…

Then came Mi and L’au. Looking like a pair of strung-out Western European refugees, the duo took a seat on stage with Laurent Leclère (the L’au part) quietly plucking his guitar. When I say “quietly,” I mean he was barely touching the strings. O’Leaver’s fell into a silence suitable for funerals and libraries as Mira Romantschuk (the MI part) leaned forward and whispered into the microphone. That’s when the reverence turned into the absurd. Everyone began looking around, startled by the level of silence. So quiet was it that you could hear someone whisper-hiss to Chris the Bartender “Shot of Jaeger please.” The absurdity turned to hilarity when an unassuming couple walked in and said “What’s the cover?” and was met with SHHHH!!! followed by lots of restrained laughter. That’s when everyone in the back of the bar realized how ridiculous the moment had become. We were in frickin’ O’Leaver’s, for God’s sake. The phone of the guy standing next to me suddenly came alive. He fumbled to get it out of his pocket when Chris hissed “Turn that thing off!” The guy answered the cell in normal tone “What’s up dog?” and everyone around breath-hissed in restrained laughter. Remember when you were in church as a kid and your brother or sister got you started laughing and trying to stop only made you laugh harder?

On one level, I was proud of O’Leaver’s and the usually rowdy patrons for showing so much restraint. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder what MI and L’au were thinking playing a bar that only moments early was blaring Van Halen over its jukebox. Laurent knows that their music is a hard-sell in clubs, and says it’s he and Mi’s responsibility to keep the crowd focused. And they did for about two more songs, then people began to talk quietly among themselves again. It got louder but never really to normal O’Leaver’s sound levels. Frankly, it couldn’t or you would not be able to hear a note they were playing up there huddled over their microphones. Their music, which is somewhat monotone and tuneless in the first place, became even more uninteresting by a performance that wasn’t as much restrained as it was just plain strained. It could have been pretty if the music were played and sung with just a little more umph. Instead the duo sounded like they just took an overdose of sleeping pills and decided to slowly pass away together playing their music, not alone but instead surrounded by a roomful of people who didn’t understand what they were singing.

Tonight. Shelley Short with McCarthy Trenching and Steve Bartolomei as Mal Madrigal, though I’m told Steve will be performing solo. At O’Leavers, 9:30 p.m., $5. Leave your earplugs at home.

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