Monday, October 01, 2012

Review: Nellie McKay at Polsky Theatre

As about 5,000 of her contemporaries filed into Starlight Theatre for a concert by the Ben Folds Five on Friday evening, the similarly acerbic piano-based singer-songwriter Nellie McKay entertained about 300 senior citizens and a few dozen younger folks at Polsky Theatre.

Largely because she prefers Cole Porter to Elton John, McKay works in relative obscurity.  The 31-year-old songwriter may not sell many albums, but I'll put my money on "Ding Dong" over Folds' "Battle of Who Could Care Less" in a contest of bitter songs about alienation.

Friday's concert opened with a seductive reading of "Sentimental Journey."  During "Crazy Rhythm," McKay verbalized an internal dialogue.  "Only the best for Overland Park!" she squeaked.  A rendition of "A Tisket a Tasket" emphasized the absurdity of the song.  Not every standard was soothing.  "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue," for instance, is a difficult song for a blonde 31-year-old Manhattanite to cover.  A take on the Beatles' "I'm So Tired" exposed the song's murderous intent.  She dedicated a straightforward version of the Loretta Lynn hit "One's On the Way" to Planned Parenthood.

McKay's interpretive skills and clever songs suggest that just a couple tours opening for the likes of Regina Spektor and Rufus Wainwright might afford her a more commercially substantial career.  Yet Stephen Holden has a different idea.  His examination of the state of cabaret in The New York Times  suggests that McKay is one of a group of under-40 performers who "occupy the middle ground behind cabaret’s haute and demimondes."  (Link via Emily Jones Behrmann.)

I reviewed Saturday's concert by Gary Burton, Chick Corea and the Harlem String Quartet.

Wicked Wayz was scheduled to open for horrorcore rapper Brotha Lynch Hung at Aftershock on Friday, September 28.  Instead, a candlelight tribute was held on State Avenue for a member of the rap crew.   Chad Ford, a.k.a. Creepy Face, was killed in what The Kansas City Star characterized as a "rolling gun battle" in Kansas City, Kansas, earlier in the week.  KCTV5's report has the genuinely shocking details.  The context couldn't be more chilling.  (Initial tip via Tony's Kansas City.)

Hearing Lupe Fiasco's "B*tch Bad" on KPRS is like being offered a bottle of water in a whiskey bar.  (Yes, I'm a hypocrite.)

Kansas City Click: R. Stevie Moore appears Monday at the RecordBar.

Dr. Orpheus Project performs Tuesday at the Riot Room.

Wolfgang Van Halen and Mark Tremonti play the Beaumont on Wednesday.

Knuckleheads hosts JD McPherson on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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