Saw Värttinä last night as mentioned in the previous entry. They were at The Birchmere, a nifty club in northern Virginia whose shows always seem to start and end on time (generally 7:30 til 9ish). Unfortunately they’re pricy and rarely get acts that interest me, occupying a classic-rock (which includes some proggy-prog stuff like Rick Wakeman and Carl Palmer’s tours last year), country, and singer-songwriter niche that only occasionally turns up something I want to pay big bucks to see. Värttinä seemed like an odd selection, but though the crowd was small, they absolutely ate it up. I was pretty unaffected though — but I’m not sure why as this was by any measure a pretty good performance.
The band consisted of three absurdly energetic female vocalists backed by a six-piece band (guitar, violin, accordion, bouzouki, bass, drums), all of whom seemed like excellent musicians. It was the vocalists who were the most intriguing for me, though, and the bits when they sung without instrumental backing were actually some of my favorite parts — in many ways the three-part harmonies were a lot more interesting than the relatively straightforward instrumental rock-outs. Also, there was a really long drum solo, which is never a good thing. So anyway, while “Charming Hostess with a Scandinavian-folk backing band” is a decent description, it also overstates how challenging the music is. In other words, this was a pretty standard affair for a Northside band: extremely competent, quite enjoyable, but well short of great. Maybe not worth the $26 I forked out, but it’s been nearly a month since my last live show and it definitely helped scratch that itch.