Vienna Teng in Central Park and at Williams College

Vienna Teng in Central Park

Back on April 20th, Jenn and I were in the city for NY Comic Con, and we were therefore lucky enough to have the chance to catch Vienna Teng’s set at the Green Apple Festival in Central Park. She was on at noon, as the first act of the day, and there was definitely a contingent of Vienna’s fans out there among the people who were just there to get a good spot for the rest of the afternoon’s entertainment. With Alex Wong backing her up, she did six or seven songs, including some of those I think of as almost her standards and her cover of Radiohead’s “Idioteque” (which was a definite crowd pleaser). I think she may have won over a few new fans, and it was nice to both hear her play and then have time to say hi afterwards before we headed downtown for another engagement.

Looking at Vienna’s tour schedule we didn’t think we’d have a chance to see her play again for a while, but early last week a May 2nd concert at Williams College was announced. I was already seriously considering making the trek out to far northwestern Massachusetts, and then I asked Vienna if she planned on playing any of her newer songs (which I had yet to hear). When she replied that indeed she was going to be playing some of the new material, I decided that I was definitely making the long drive out to Williamstown.

It wasn’t hard to convince Jenn to go too (all I had to do was tell her about the show), so this past Friday we made the long drive out. We stopped on the way at the Lhasa Cafe in Northampton for some tasty Tibetan food, and then got stuck behind a tractor trailer on the steep climb up the Mohawk Trail, but we still managed to make it to Baxter Hall at Williams College in time to get pretty good seats for the concert. It was a free performance held in what was basically the open great hall of the college’s student center, which was perhaps not the ideal location (especially when the staff decided they needed to run the vacuum nearby in the middle of one of the songs), but there was a pretty impressive turnout. The sound from the PA system was about what you’d expect from an event like this, sort of muddy and with a bit too much low end, but it was a great show despite that. I even managed to keep a set list:

Whatever You Want
In Another Life*
Stray Italian Greyhound*
The Tower
Antebellum* [co-written with Alex Wong]
City Hall [earlier in the set than planned, by request]
Decade and One
Transcontinental, 1:30am
Grandmothers Song* [not sure of the name on this one]

* indicates a new song

That’s right, we got six new songs! I thought they were all good, with the standouts for me being “Antebellum” and “Augustine.” Vienna’s hoping to have her next album out in 2009, so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for both of those making it onto the CD. All in all, it was a great show, and I was glad we’d made the trek out to hear it.

After she was done, Vienna did plenty of signing, and even played “Soon Love Soon” through the monitor for a few fans who’d wanted the chance to sing along with that. Then she asked Jenn and I if we’d like to join her for some late-night food, and we headed out with her and a couple of other folks to find what we could in Williamstown. The tavern we ended up at may have served me the single worst piece of pecan pie I’ve ever had, but it was still a fun time, and we lingered until the place was about to shut down. That meant a long, rainy, foggy, late night drive back, but we survived it intact, so I’d definitely say that it was well worth it.

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