Willamette Week printed their Best New Band 2007 list last week and held a free concert at Berbati's Pan on Friday. The lineup was Laura Gibson, Horse Feathers and Shaky Hands. Free concert is hard to turn down.
We got to Berbati's right at 9. The concert was to start at 9:30. It was not too crowded, but it was already hot. There is virtually no ventilation. As more people crammed in and started smoking, the more uncomfortable I got. Then Laura Gibson took the stage.
She had short hair, in a bob, curled under and clipped away from her face with a baby barette. She was wearing a powder blue dress with slightly puffy almost cap sleeves. The dress came down just to her knees, just above her brown leatherish boots. She hesitantly took a hold of the microphone and said "Hi." Almost like a little girl who was going to kindergarten for the first time and who was just introducing herself to her teacher. She giggled and tucked her hair behind her ear.
Then she started singing. I think. I'm not quite sure because I couldn't really hear her. The loudness of the crowd was beating her up quite well and she was not putting up a very good fight. The applause after her first song could barely be heard above the noisy audience talking to their friends about their week, which is what I really wanted to be doing, but I was with my sister, who loves this type of thing, so I was playing along.
Laura Gibson never got any louder. I'm not sure if I like her music because I couldn't really hear it. She was dressed like a little girl, talked like a little girl and sang like a little girl. Her shyness and humility was annoying. I mean, come on - she was just voted one of the best new bands in Portland and she gets up there and hems and haws around, as if she is afraid that she was going to get in trouble. "I'd like to dedicate this next song to Amy at Willamette Week, who grew up in a small town. And also to [someone else] who also grew up in a small town. And also to any of you who grew up in a small town. Or any town. Anywhere." Giggle. Giggle. Hesitation. Quiet, mumbling song that sounds sad, from what I can tell, but have no idea what the hell it was all about.
To be fair, she might be an amazing artist, given the right venue. Maybe Mississippi Studios? Or Pix Patisserie (I heard that she played a great show there once). But for heaven's sake, don't feed her to a getting-drunk crowd in a hot and smoky venue on a Friday night. That's just not fair.
I left after five or six songs because it was blazing hot and smoky and the din of the noisy crowd competing with a I-don't-have-the-confidence-to-sing-louder-than-people-are-talking singer was way too annoying for me. I went home and watched Lifetime. It was seriously much better than the concert.