Holcombe Waller at The Doug Fir Lounge

Last Thursday night I went with a friend to the Doug Fir (yes, I go there a lot) to see some local talent. We missed the first opener and left before the headliner. This left us with the middle act, a guy named Holcombe Waller. As he started to play it occurred to me that I’d seen him before somewhere. Where, where, where had I seen this guy?! It was driving me nuts!

My friend didn’t recognize him at all. Had I seen him around the neighborhood? If so, my friend would have recognized him too. Was he in a different band? Climber maybe? As he moved about the stage he looked even more familiar. The way he moved was familiar. Arrrgh! It was so distracting! Since there’s no T-Mobile service in the club, I couldn’t even google him.

But on to the music, which wasn’t bad, but didn’t make me jump for joy either. I wasn’t keen on his accompanying vocalist as I felt like their voices didn’t meld very smoothly most of the time. Separately, they were both unique and good. Together, not great. His lyrics tended to be repetetive, the point apparently being to show off the range of his falsetto vocal stylings. I felt like he really enjoyed the sound of his own voice, which was quite lovely at times, but it made his performance feel very insular. He seemed very self-aware and focused on what he was doing, until the last song, when he let loose a bit.

Given the vibe he was giving off during the show, I was surprised to learn that he has 3 albums out and is a seasoned performer. I finally got home and googled him and discovered that he was in a play I saw earlier in the summer called Tao Soup. Mystery solved at last! The performance involved a lot of body expression and vocal exercises so it made sense that I recognized him on that level. The actors in Tao Soup were also very self-aware and the vocals were repetetive so I suppose it’s a performance method that he’s very into right now.
I find that self-aware, self-indulgent vibe to be a conceit in performance art that’s hard to move past. It distracts me from the music, message, or beauty that the artist is attempting to convey. I see it a lot in literature as well. In writing, it’s what I like to call “having a literary wank.” Perhaps I’ll have a go at that topic in the future.

Getting back to Holcombe, I enjoyed his work in Tao Soup more than his music at the Fir. I’d see him again if he happened to be opening for someone else I wanted to see, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for him. Oddly sad, but true.

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2 Comments »

  1. holcombe Said:

    darling, if you must use the phrase “self-indulgent,” please give credit where credit is due. your attitudes and opinions are clearly in homage to the willamette week’s rather cruel review of “tao soup,” written by the fabulously opinionated paige richmond, which found the play “not only self-indulgent but boring.” on the topic of repitition, i found her review to be far more clever than anything you had to say here, amusing readers with her catchy observations, “Tao Soup claims that “this moment will never change,” and it’s true: This repetitive play is like a broken record of Lao Tse doing spoken word.” now THAT, technogrrl, is a review! but i suppose it’s nice that you cared enough to post your very best, if at all. -holcombe

  2. technogrrrl Said:

    LOL! Fortunately, darling boy, no one pays me for my written opinion. I will say that my comments were based on the conversation I had with my friend immediately following Tao Soup and that I hadn’t read any reviews of the show. Reviewers do enjoy trying to be clever, which must feel cruel for those being reviewed. I can see that it’s difficult to accept honest criticism, particulary from a mere ticket buying patron such as myself. In any case, I do appreciate that you took the time to post such a heartfelt response to my opinion.  Perhaps it will be of some consolation that very few people actually read my blog, they all know I’m not terribly clever, and you have many other fans who adore you.  😉


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