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Tuesday, December 12

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Transmission
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Concert Wed Mar 28 2012

Review: Kimya Dawson @ Old Town School of Folk Music 3/25

Clyde Petersen performs "God Speed John Glen."

Clyde Petersen of Your Heart Breaks opened for Kimya Dawson at Sunday's show at the Old Town School of Folk Music, introducing his first song with: "This is a song about sneaking out of your parent's house to smoke weed in high school." It was like listening to my kid brother jam out on his guitar... if I had a kid brother, and if he was a musician. Like Dawson, Petersen is from Washington State, and had positive things to say about his visit to Chicago: "I like the bean, I enjoy your bean," he said, and: "I like that there are a lot of animators in your town who are cool ladies."

Petersen's songs ran the emotional spectrum from teenage nostalgia, to finding his way in the world as a transgender person. Dawson joined Petersen in a song dedicated to the memory of a deceased transgender activist; her metallic, animal-print leggings and halo of hair contrasting with Petersen's dressed-down aesthetic.

Petersen ended his set with an amazing piece titled "God Speed John Glen" about the 1961 space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. that included recorded feedback loops of his own guitar playing, acting out both parts of a conversation between an astronaut and ground control, and a nod to both Elton John and David Bowie in the lyrics: "I think it's going to be a long long time... ground control to Major Tom."

After Petersen's set, Dawson came onstage and delivered her intense, contained presence; she kept her eyes closed as she sang, focusing her energy into the guitar at her fingers and the lyrics in her head. Her set included songs from her kid's music, and having performed for an audience of children audience earlier that day had fresh stories to tell about sharing the stage with toddlers. She spoke of the 3 year-old who'd snorted into the microphone for three minutes straight: "she was really cute, and definitely possessed by demons." Among the kid's songs were "Bobby-O," "Tree Hugger," and "Alphabutt."

Dawson included some of her equally whimsical, but not-exactly-for-kids songs like: "I Like Bears," some that were featured on the soundtrack of the film Juno, like "Loose Lips," and some from the darker recesses of her repertoire like "Miami Advice."

The magic of Kimya Dawson is in her stark truthfulness; in "The Beer," she sings of her days as an alcoholic, in "I Like Giants," she explores the feeling of being small in the endless universe, and "Walk Like Thunder," one of the longest, darkest, and most descriptive of her songs, details her voyage through addiction.

Towards the end of the concert she spoke of her 5-year-old daughter, Panda, for whom she wrote the song "You Are My Baby." In a perfect world, we would all be Kimya Dawson's babies, and everyone would be welcome.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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