A year of Vienna Teng concerts

There are only two possible reasons for the lack of concert posts here over the past year.  The first is that I didn’t go see any live music.  The second is that I failed to post about it.

Fortunately, the second explanation is the correct one.

In an attempt to get things rolling again, this is a post about the seven Vienna Teng concerts I attended from December 2008 through December 2009.

Vienna Teng at Iron Horse Music Hall, Mon, December 8, 2008
Vienna Teng at Watercolor Cafe, Tue, December 9, 2008

Two great back-to-back solo shows with Vienna in fine form. She played some songs from the then upcoming new album, Inland Territory, including the brilliant “Antebellum.”

Vienna Teng at A Benefit for Caffe Vivaldi, Sun, February 15, 2009

One of two special shows that Vienna did to benefit Caffe Vivaldi in NYC, during which she, Alex and Ward performed the not-yet-released Inland Territory from start to finish. There were a few kinks, but overall it was an excellent way to hear all of the new material live, and for a good cause too.

Vienna Teng at Infinity Hall, Thu, July 9, 2009

Vienna Teng at Infinity Hall (3 of 4)

This was the first time I had seen Vienna perform since the new album had come out in April, and the touring in support of that seemed to have made her even more confident on stage. She played a great set that included my request for “Augustine.” I hadn’t been following the set lists on the forum, and I assumed she’d been playing the song live during the European and U.S. release tours. I was wrong. Apparently the solo version of “Augustine” that she did was the first time she’d played it live since the benefit shows in February. Fortunately, she did an awesome job, with a solo version of the song that I like even better than the album version.

Vienna Teng at Iron Horse Music Hall, Thu, October 1, 2009

I was joined at this one by Jenn, woj, Meredith, Sarah and Kate, and it was a great show, even if the extra keyboard was blocking much of our line of sight when Vienna was sitting at the piano, which she does a lot. Fortunately, the music made up for it, with Vienna and Alex doing a great job together. The bonus for the evening was opener The Paper Raincoat, Alex’s band, who were just brilliant.

Vienna Teng live album recording at Joe’s Pub, Thu, December 3, 2009

Vienna Teng at Joe's Pub (2 of 3)

Springing for VIP seats for the later of the two live album recording shows ended up being a great idea, as it meant there was plenty of time to get an excellent dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar before getting in line, without having to worry about not getting good seats. In fact, we ended up getting to share a table with the fabulous Priscellie and her friend Mike. The music was great, and the energy was about what you’d expect with Vienna, Alex and Ward playing in front of an audience that was mostly made up of hardcore fans. Another benefit of the VIP tickets was getting to hang out with Vienna some at the after-show party, even though that meant getting back from the city around 4am.

Vienna Teng and Over the Rhine at The Egg, Sun, December 6, 2009

A few nights after the live recording show, a long trek to Albany was made to see Vienna and Alex perform in a co-bill with Over the Rhine. After the long drive, the fiasco that was parking at The Egg (the website lies!), and the resulting hike to the venue, I was hoping for a great show. What I got was half of a great show, but fortunately it was Vienna’s half. The vibe was definitely different from Joe’s Pub, as I’d say it was mostly an Over the Rhine audience, but Vienna and Alex did a great job of winning them over, and the fact that it was a co-bill meant they got in a nice long set.

As for OtR, I just found them to be….well, sort of boring, which I hadn’t been expecting. They also had their sound guy turn things up way too loud, and though the venue’s acoustics handled it well, it detracted from the music. The last time I’d seen them live, a couple of years ago in Sellersville, PA, the sound had also been too loud, but I thought it was probably the venue’s problem. Apparently it’s actually OtR’s sound guy that’s the problem though, so between that and not being thrilled by the performance, I don’t know how likely I am to see another Over the Rhine show. It’s always a weird feeling to realize that you’re no longer a big fan of a band you’ve been following for more than a decade.

In any case, Vienna’s performance was good enough that I was still glad I went, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing her more in 2010.

2 Responses to “A year of Vienna Teng concerts”

  1. Scot Says:

    Found your blog via your tweet (Yes, I track Vienna Teng tweets). Nice writeup. I was at the Joe’s shows, too- VIP. Did we meet?


  2. Michael Says:

    Glad you liked the writeup. We may have met, but I’m not sure. I wasn’t at the VIP all that long before I needed to make a break to catch a train home.