A couple nights ago I (Katie, The Pickup) had an absolutely fantastic evening because I was able to see My Brightest Diamond for the second time live. Last time I saw her she played a huge venue with a full orchestra, but this time it was just her and all of her instruments in a much smaller setting at City Winery in Chicago. It was a lovely show-she played a great set with songs from all of her albums as well as a Prince cover and another song I wasn’t familiar with. I took a little bit of video to share with you all…enjoy! 

In case any of my followers didn’t know, I help (on occasion) run the fymybrightestdiamond blog and so it seemed appropriate I post my video from the show over there. But here it is over here too if anyone is interested. 

Top Live Acts of 2011

This year I made it to a point to go to a lot of shows. Some were awful, most were good, but there are a few that really stood out. Here are my nine favorites from this year: 

1. Bon Iver- My thoughts on the show

2. My Brightest Diamond- My thoughts on the show

3. St. Vincent- My thoughts on the show

4. Son Lux- My thoughts on the show

5. The Welcome Wagon- My thoughts on the show

6. Kopecky Family Band- My thoughts on the show

7. The Civil Wars- My thoughts on the show

8. Lord Huron- I saw these guys back in April opening for Rural Alberta Advantage, and I cannot wait to see them again. The already small set was cut short due to technical difficulties, but the songs they did get to play pulled me into their folksy beach tunes right away.

9. Fleet Foxes- My thoughts on the show
The Pick-Up Playlist #2

I’m reluctantly accepting the fact that finals are upon me, and most other college students in the US… so to make it more bearable, I’ve made this playlist filled with all sorts of musical wonders. 

Free Unreleased yMusic Track Penned By Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond

Here’s a new track “Skin & Bones” written for the ensamble by Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond! It’s free today, so hop over and download another lovely piece from this fantastic sextet! 

I am just going to go ahead and post another My Brightest Diamond video. This one is also from the show I went to and has a mini interview at the beginning. Be sure to listen to the strings from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra in this song…so lovely. 

My Brightest Diamond at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion 8.8.11


I’m going a little backwards on this one…I did my write-up of the My Brightest Diamond show first instead of the Son Lux shows, but I’ll post that pretty soon. 

I am so very glad I made it to this show. It was beautiful. This show marked the 4th concert I have attended by myself. Three out of the four have been for an Asthmatic Kitty musician or someone related-I cannot miss a show just because no one will go with me, I would regret it for too long. I took the L downtown to a stop close to Millennium Park and walked in the rain to the park after a quick bite to eat. It hasn’t rained much this summer in St. Louis, so it was actually kind of nice. When I arrived at the pavilion there weren’t a ton of people, but I figured I should get a seat just in case it started to get crowded. I got a good spot out of the rain in the middle of the third row and had a good view of everything. Turns out most of the people there at that point were parents of the kids in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), but there were a few MBD fans mixed in too.

I didn’t manage to keep track of the entire set, but she played a lot of new music, including “Reaching Through To The Other Side” and it was absolutely incredible. I am so very excited to hear the new album in it’s entirety. She sang “We Added It Up” and it was perfect. I love how sassy she makes it sound and the orchestration is brilliant. During that song she motioned us to echo the lyrics “love binds the world” and that was so fun. I’m pretty sure that all the parents who were there to watch their kids ended up falling in love with Shara too.

I loved all of the new songs, but “Be Brave” stood out to me the most. The orchestration was intense and loud, the drums were consistently thumping as Shara chanted “Sh-sh-shara this is going to hurt, be brave, dear one, be changed, be undone”. I seriously love this song. I didn’t take a video of the whole song with my camera, but I was able to record about a minute of footage on my phone and I’ve probably listened to that clip about fifteen times. Some wonderful person recorded it though and stuck it on youtube… make sure you have some extra time because you might want to listen to it ten times. 

I thought this song was interesting too because it reminded me of “Vesuvius” by Sufjan Stevens because they both refer to themselves in third person and they’re sort of encouraging or commanding themselves to do something or be a certain way. I don’t think many musicians do that much, but maybe I’ve just never noticed.

I think this new album is going to be extraordinary. Her new material seems like it’s going to have edgier orchestration (can’t say for sure, it might just appear that way to me since I saw her with an orchestra) and more vivid, extravagant, and catchier than her last few albums. I don’t mean that her last albums were boring or something, but more so that it seems like she is just making it grander, not as much quiet, soft singing.

Not only was the music performed by Shara and CYSO delightful, but Shara is quite the storyteller and dancer. Before she played “From The Top Of The World”, she told us a story from the book At the Back of the North Wind that inspired the song, complete with the wispy sounds of the “North Wind” from the orchestra…it was pretty cool. I felt like I was a little kid hearing a wonderful bedtime story. Her dancing was just plain awesome. I love when you can tell musicians are having a good time on stage.

She only sang two or three songs without the orchestra, with just her guitar, ukulele, or her other various instruments, but one of the sweetest was “I Have Never Loved Someone”; a song she wrote for her son who is around a year old. It was pretty cute-he was sitting in the front row pretty close to me and right as she began to sing the song, he let out a little cry. The song was so sweet and lovely, I’m looking forward to hearing it on the new album.

A few other songs she sprinkled in between the songs I have mentioned thus far were “Feeling Good” (from Dark Was The Night), “Escape Routes”, and “Apples” for the encore. All were excellent. During “Apples”, she encouraged everyone to dance, and some people took her up on it and started a little part in the aisle. It was hilarious and wonderful, I kind of wish I had joined because it looked like so much fun. Shara’s joy emanates from the stage and made it such a fun and beautiful concert.

I mentioned the other day that after the Son Lux show on Saturday I talked to Shara Worden a bit, she was very nice. We didn’t talk about much other than that I was coming to her show in a few days and about her show in St. Louis that is on September 11. I told her I was super bummed that her concert and the Bon Iver concert were the same night…which, seriously is so sad because I would love to see her again. After her show on Monday I got to talk to her again and I told her I loved the new material and that it was an amazing performance. We talked about a few other things, then parted ways. She is so sweet and I’m really glad I was able to talk to her on two occasions. 

Watch this a few times. 

I met Shara Worden and Ryan Lott today after his [Son Lux’s] show! I will write more about that in a post to come, as well as more details about both Son Lux performances (the one at Millenium Park and the other that was later in the day at Saki Records).