Saturday, May 14, 2011
Michele Wylen Nails Comeback Show
Back when I wrote for Willamette Week, I used to get to pick a show of the year. I kind of miss that. I still think about it whenever I see a really good show.
About a month ago, I saw a show that would definitely be my frontrunner for 2011 so far. After not performing for like 3 or 4 years or something, Michele Wylen, a local producer and singer, booked a headlining First Thursday gig at Backspace. What was so great about this show, was that it went right into the heart of Portland and packed the place on a night when Portland really likes to celebrate being Portland, and then it went ahead and was completely un-Portland.
Now don't get me wrong, I like it here. I like a lot of music that comes from here. But for whatever Portland bands are--loud, creative, cute--whatever the case may be, they are not typically polished or perfectionist. This is the kind of town where you throw on leg warmers, fire up a Casio, and boom, you have a band. This show wasn't like that at all.
Michele had a set built by a set designer. It was these bare branches painted in white and silver in a canopy over the stage. I liked the contrast of the natural form of the wood and artificial colors. This is what there was to look at before she started because there weren't 5 opening bands. There weren't any opening bands.
When Michele took the stage, she was accompanied by two backup dancers. These ladies weren't fooling around. This was rehearsed, choreographed shit. Wireless microphone in hand, Michele sang perfect melodies in her plastic voice over intricate electronic dance music of her own creation.
Everyone in the crowd craned to get a good look because everything was worth seeing. Hair, makeup, clothes--there was even a costume change. You could tell that each detail of the show was planned, but as Michele stared into the crowd, you could also tell she was fully in the moment.
And then, 30 minutes later, it was done. She left 'em wanting more, which I always love. It was so refreshing to see that much preparation and care go into a one-off gig. I hope that with her next show, Michele unseats herself as my favorite show of 2011.
Visit Michele Wylen's website or hear her sing backups on one of my songs. Image by Minh Tran; Michele on the right.