One of the things I love about living in New York is that I can see all these bands and musicians I’ve only obsessed over in recorded form. (Oklahoma isn’t always on people’s touring calendar.) Recently I got to see a musician I’ve been listening to for a long time but had never seen live: Chad VanGaalen.
VanGaalen is from Canada and has generally recorded his own albums and even drawn the art (including that for some awesome music videos). I remember the first time I heard “Clinically Dead,” the first track on his 2004 Infiniheart, and being completely won over by his uniquely straining voice and wavering then pounding instrumentation. The lyrics were so beautiful, yet unsentimentally wrenching. Just direct and quiet and almost painful.
His concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg focused on his wonderful new album, and I especially liked the live rendition of the lovely “Sara,” shown below.
I also want to mention the exceptionally good openers. Hospital Ships were first, and I have to guess from their name that their sort of early Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev sound was studied and intentional. After them was Nat Baldwin, who was just amazing. It was only him and a stand up bass, yet he created these dense, lyrical songs. Please watch below and be jealous of people with such talent: