last night at the troubadour in l.a. elliott played what i can only refer to
as an anti-set. he wasn't in a bad mood, the set itself wasn't bad, just the
weirdest choice of songs i've ever seen him play. the troub is a smallish club
- he's played there a number of times before. what was great was that it was
just elliott acoustic, the band had the night off after 2 nights at a larger
venue. since i much prefer the starkness and intimacy of his pre-xo sound, i
was really looking forward to this show. the xo songs he played sounded just
okay acoustic - with the exception of a small handful including waltz #2
(which i think sounded MUCH better acoustic then it sounds on the album...), i
don't think they hold up that well without a band. he hardly played any of the
xo tunes that he plays with his band. no waltz #2, no bottle up and explode,
no independence day. i think the biggest surprise of the evening was that he
only played one song (say yes) from either/or! he asked, "what do ya wanna
hear?" 2 or three tmes - then ignored all requests. the highlight was hearing
the new songs - brand new songs - i'm not talking tom's start or stupidity
tries here. new, new songs and they sounded realllly good - just hope he
doesn't go too far with big production values when he takes these into the
studio...the set list as much in order as i recall went like this:
tomorrow tomorrowpitselahoh well, okaykilling a southern belle
(new song) - son of sam?(another new song)the white lady loves you more
baby britain(two more new songs)say yesthe biggest lie division day
(cover tune - old dylan tune?)
Elliott Smith in Los Angeles
March 6, 1999
"Elliott, are you every man?"
The anonymous female voice that called this out from somewhere in the
center of the sold out crowd that filled the Troubadour tonight wasn't
exactly being rhetorical. Without much hesitation she persisted:
"Do you represent every man Elliott?"
Elliott Smith sat onstage alone, in one of those Chinese banquet style
pleather chairs, amusingly so near broken that the legs were taped to
the seat. His eyes were squinted but lit up a bit at the second posing
of this question.
The majority of this audience was too rapt in their own song requests,
Elliott's performance, or just lost in the noisy crowd to even notice
this somewhat sarcastic banter that was taking place before them.
" she called out again.
"No, I am
a very weird man."
And with that, Elliott Smith announced this would be the last song of
and it was only about 40 minutes into this set.
After playing 3 sold out shows in the L.A. area, two on March 3 and 4th
at the El Rey theatre & then a smaller gig in Santa Barbara on the 5th,
Elliott returned to do one last night in West Hollywood's Troubadour. It
was billed as a "special acoustic performance," and from the general
reaction in the crowd, it was special indeed, as a lot of them had never
heard Elliott perform without a backing band.
Going through a set list that was predominantly made up of songs off of
"XO" and his self-titled release on Kill Rock Stars, Elliott also played
a few beautiful new songs that have yet to be recorded. One of the most
memorable moments of the evening was when he went into a cover of
Dylan's "Oh Sister." As someone in the audience remarked afterwards,
"anyone can do a cover but he is one of the only artists that captures
the emotion in Dylan's songs when he plays them."
After the announcement that the show was over, Elliott did end up
returning for an encore. He went through a few more songs, ignoring the
dozens of requests that were habitually being hollered out, and then
No one in the audience wanted him to stop and the applause continued
even after the lights had come back up.
Some of the major changes about seeing Elliott now as opposed to this
time last year were glaringly apparent tonight. No one was allowed to
bring in a camera or a recorder of any kind. Apparently, the picture
taking during his shows has been getting a bit out of hand and according
to one person on this tour, turning the performances into a "flash photo
free for all which was distracting from the music." People out front of
the venue were asking up to $50 for tickets, which was nothing compared
to some people in line who went through a broker and payed in the range
of $75-200 per ticket for tonight's show. Elliott's popularity has
reached beyond the small venues he still tries to play. With music
obviously suited for more intimate settings, his fan base may now be
more suited for larger ampitheatres
it is a sort of damned if you do,
damned if you don't situation.
One of the nicer stories of the evening came from a couple of ticketless
fans who arrived at the venue early in hopes of being able to purchase
decently priced tickets out front. Instead, what they got was a quick
run-in with Elliott Smith himself. When they told him they wanted to
see tonight's show but couldn't get in, without hesitating, he asked for
their names and put them on his guest list saying, "if you wanna see the
show you should be able to see the show."
So they did.
There aren't too many artists out there who would care enough to do
this. If Elliott Smith did represent "every man," or even just "every
musician," the social climate taking us out of the 20th century would be
a whole lot warmer.
The Troubadour show--damn that was good. Ok, i LOVE that place. I've always
loved shows in Boston, but I really enjoyed the Troubadour. I arrived in LA
around 6pm, went to my friend's apartment, and then headed to the show. I got
there after doors were already open, and was still able to have a damn good
view (from hanging over the bar on the balcony). Anyway, i came back in from
selling my two extra tickets outside when my friends told me that elliott was
standing in that clear booth thing next to the balcony. So, that held my
attention until No. 2 came out. It was awesome to see Elliott laughing as much
as he was. He seemed really happy, which of course seemed to change once he
came out on stage. But anyway, he was in those red cords, the 88 tee shirt,
which i've never seen, and those red sneakers--for anyone who cares, which
um...yeah, i care. Call me obsessed, im guilty. Anyway, the show was great. I
was with 5 friends, all who I somehow convinced to go even though they never
heard elliott's music. I think the majority of them were pretty impressed. But
how could they not be? I was so happy to hear him play division day, since
it's my favorite song, but I was really hoping to hear miss misery, but it
didn't happen. Lets see, this show was so damn long ago, i can't remember
anything else exciting. No 2 was really impressive..i dug them alot. Oh--so,
ok. did anyone else who was at this show think it kinda seemed like elliott
didn't really want to be there? I mean, he seemed really happy before the
show, but after his encore, he went up into that booth and neil was hugging
him and grabbing his head like elliott was sick or something. I dont
know--call me crazy. And yes--obsessed.