We prepare for the freezing cold 61 degree evening we will be exposed to while viewing Regina Spektor in the great outdoors of the Greek Theater. Kelly cooks a hearty pasta dinner, a few libations are had to warm the innards, and stocking caps are thrown on for good measure. A picture is taken on our way out the door: it looks like we live in Fargo.
We pay, we park, and we walk into the venue. The girls order a bottle of wine for body temperature insurance and we take our seats. Whoever has provided us with these tickets has done an exceptional job: we are maybe seven rows back and at eye line with the performers. When Regina gets on, I can practically see each individual strange of hair on her crazy person head. Her outfit brings to mind many different things. My first impression is that she’s channeling a 80s bridesmaid stuck in a dress five sizes too big, but she turns and I see a 2 dimensional cardboard bow pinned under her kneck. Hmmm, well now she looks like Little Bo Peep, her dressed bleached white to match her flock. She wears black long sleeves under her billowing top, I assume to keep her arms warm while she plays piano. On her legs are black tights. Being all of maybe five feet tall, she is drowning in ten yards of starchy fabric. She looks like a damn sheep.
Viewed through the giant screens flanking the stage, Regina’s hair turns a fiery red and I am forced to draw a comparison to Tori Amos…with the exception of sexual abuse and daddy issues and significant lyrics.
Residual wind from the hurricane that was the other day blows through the trees looking down on the half-moon of stadium seats. Amber, green, and red lights up the flanking forest to infer a change of seasons, although pine trees are evergreens and they aren’t fooling me. The misty ambient fog pumped onto the stage whirls away as soon as it appears, leaving Regina, the five musicians behind her, and the 6 foot tall disco ball lying unused and unexplainable in the corner exposed to our unbridled interpretations of reality. We will not be fooled by smoke and mirrors – in this case, literally.
Regina’s vibe is cute. The way her fingers bounce methodically on her piano keys, the way she bashfully smiles at the crowd with her giant painted red lips, the unassuming ballet flats she wears under her giant sheep suit, her sparrow voice. Cotton candy. New born puppy. Little kid learning to walk…cute. Her music is the type you want to pump through the stereo at a factory where people make chocolate chip muffins or ho-hos. The pace is quick and jumps around and the mood is chipper and it makes you forget that life is a lot of mind numbing manual labor.
Her fans go bananas for her – relative terms, of course. Multiple times over the course of the hour boys and girls yell “Regina, I want to marry you!” And because this is more so a piano recital than a rock concert, Regina can hear these pleas over the timid to mildly enthusiastic clapping after the end of each song. She blushes and says, “Thank you.” People freak out when she waves, when she gets up from her piano, when she looks into the audience. It gets to be a little bit strange. I’m not a huge naysayer, but what’s the fuss about?
Her voice is quite beautiful, although it often gets buried in lyrics that seem to have been written after drinking a bottle of gin and jumbling up some refrigerator magnets. I can’t figure out if she’s being intellectually obtuse or childishly sophomoric. Or if her childish sophomoric angle is part of her being intellectually obtuse. Maybe I’m the idiot. Crazier things have happened.
Speaking of crazy. Halfway through the set I look over at Eileen and ask, “Do you think she might be…you know, special?” Regina is standing at her synth keyboard banging away in her gigantic dress with her crazy hair and her crazy lips and her lyrics about nothing and everything all at the same time. Eileen makes a crack about how it feels like this is a bit like a recital for “those kids.” I get the desire to pat Regina’s head and give her cheeks a good squeeze after the show. It doesn’t help much that she is doing all of her own backup signing, which makes her cut half of her lines short just to squeeze in the next one that would ordinarily be whispered or layered on top in the studio.
At a certain point, our group becomes both bored and terrified. The stage turns blood red and she’s singing about souls and I get the sense that eventually this entire venue will turn into Regina Spektor zombies, taking over the brains of real people. Apparently our sudden vision and vocalization of commercial indie armaggedon is too loud for the girls behind us. As we leave they thank us for leaving. I would have liked to respond with, “Oh yeah, well that crazy bitch up there is going to eat you after this song.” But I don’t.