Artist: Vienna Teng
Date: October 17, 2003
Venue: 400 Bar
City: Minneapolis, MN
Review by [Amy Lotsberg] Producer of Collected Sounds
I have been looking forward to this show for months. I first saw Vienna live when I visited California in March (2003). I’ve been a fan of hers since I first heard her CD, “Waking Hour” in September of 2001. I posted a review and created an Artist Spotlight on her at that time.
Then I was happy to announce that Vienna got signed to a record company (Virt Records) due in part (small part, but still…) to the exposure on my site. You can read the letter from Michael Tarlow, president of Virt here: president of Virt [HERE]
Anyway…so you see, I have a special place in my heart for Vienna and her music so this weekend was a unique treat for me.
Her show at the 400 Bar was something I will probably remember forever. The atmosphere was amazing. I was frankly a little nervous as most other acts I’ve seen there (and I’ve seen my share, believe me, it’s right near the campus where I went to school) have been hard rock or punk bands. It’s not very often you see something as mellow and quiet as Vienna’s music. So I was slightly afraid that she would not get the reception she deserved. I could just see some loud drunk barfing on the floor in front of her piano or something. Well, I was in for a surprise.
They had moved all the tables and bar stools out from the center of the room (in front of the stage) and put in rows of chairs. There were still a couple tables along the back and sides, but the center of the room was sit down only. This helped to create a very artist friendly atmosphere as people were not as inclined to gab with one another when they’re next to instead of across from each other. So the stage was set just right.
Vienna’s opening act was a guy named Kevin Hagan who also goes by the name Mr. Biggins. He was pretty good. I realized half way through the set that I’d seen him before, I don’t know where, but I recognized some of his music. He had a nice voice.
Vienna came on around 11 (bar time, she was supposed to go on at 10). From the time she hit the first note to the end of the evening the audience was captivated. You could have heard a pin drop through the entire performance, well, except when people were laughing at her stories. She’s gotten quite a bit more at home on the stage just in the last 6 or so months since I saw her the first time. She’s never seemed nervous but now she seems so comfortable.
I don’t have a set list, but I know she started with “Gravity” and when that was over, she said, “Well, that was the song about the boyfriend, then I had to write a song about the girlfriend too” and played “The Tower”.
She played one new song “Homecoming” (not positive on the name, I meant to ask her and I forgot). It was gorgeous. I can’t wait to hear it on the new CD (out in February). She also did, “Enough to Go By”, “Daughter”, “Lullaby for a stormy night” “Drought” (my favorite, I’m so glad I got to hear that one) and more that I can’t remember.
She ended the show with “Unwritten Letter #1” which she said was written when she fell in love with a man who turned out to be gay. She later told me that the man in question heard that song and wrote to her saying, “Who dumped you? That’s awful!” not knowing it was he.
It was a wonderful feeling to watch the people sitting there taking her in and being as moved by her music as I am. I got all misty. I took a few pictures but I didn’t have the best seats (got there at 8:30…doors at 8…and all the chairs were taken). But it’s OK because the reason we weren’t there right at 8 is we were having dinner with Vienna so it was worth it.
Like I said, I’ve been to the 400 Bar several times and have never before heard people “shush-ing” each other. I think the entire audience went over to the merch table afterwards to buy CDs and meet her. It was a fabulous night and I’m so glad I was there to watch Minneapolis fall in love with Vienna Teng.
Note: she also played a show at St. Thomas on Saturday evening but it was a private show for students and faculty and I didn’t want to intrude even though Vienna was sweet enough to offer to sneak me in. Word is that show went very well also and in fact the two shows combined she sold so many CDs she had to call the record company to send more for her next stop, Chicago. As she said, “Good problem to have!”
This might not be the exact order, but it’s pretty close, I know she began with those two and ended with those two:
Enough to Go By
Soon Love Soon
Lullaby for a stormy night
Unwritten Letter #1