10/14 The Magnetic Fields @ Paramount

Stephin Merritt and his odd band of thieves have been stealing our heart for almost two decades now, and on October 14th they came for blood here at Austin’s Paramount Theatre. The night come and gone, here are some highlights in short of the show.  Follow the jump to read highlights.

Michael Hearst entertained the audience with his clever short short stories and Songs For Newsworthy News.  Sure, he resembled Demetri Martin during a Comedy Central Marathon, but it was an interesting spin on the opening slot, which was quite refreshing for those in attendance. 

The Magnetic Fields took to the stage a little after 8:45.  Longtime collaborator, Claudia Gonson, would be our host for the evening, as Mr. Merritt chose to sit squarely on the sidelines, eager to let the attention go to his supporting cast.  Ms. Gonson, for her part, did a splendid job of combining both backstory and wit into the set. 

Seeing as they band has hit the road in support of their Psychocandy-esque Distortion from 2008, it was only fitting that a great deal of the set stemmed from that particular moment in their catalogue.  Stripped bear of the “distortion,” the audience soon found the hidden gems of pop structure lying in wait for everyone.  Songs from Distortion that made their way onto the set list are as follows: “Xavier Says,” “Zombie Boy,” “California Girls,” “The Nun’s Litany,” “Courtesans,” “Too Drunk to Dream,” and “Three Way,” which the band played as part of their encore.  All these songs were torn down to the skeletal mass of the song, ultimately giving the song more power in the performance.

The group highlighted other moments from Mr. Merritt’s varied catalogue such as “Walking My Gargoyle,” “The Tiny Goat,” and “Crows,” both which come under his moniker as The Gothic Archies. Also making the set was “What a Fucking Lovely Day” from the album Showtunes

Our Paramount Theater played the perfect host for the chamber pop of the band, and it was one of the only shows recently where an audacious crowd failed to ruin a song by talking through its entirety.  Sure, there was a moment when a child in the crowd called for a particular song of his choosing, to which Mr. Merritt blew off with a commentary on “insects.”  Other than that, Stephin was particularly witty and dry, just as one expects from so clever a man.  

The first part of the set closed with “Papa Was a Rodeo,” which is rumored to have been penned in Austin at the Rainbow Cattle Company.  In between they used up gems such as “I Wish I Had an Evil Twin,” and an overly charming rendition of “Yeah! Oh, Yeah!”  They closed off, before entering encore, with “It’s Only Time,” a fan, and romantic, favorite. 

Walking away from the show at the end of the night, you felt as if you had shared in a secret of sorts that the rest of the world just seemed to pass on over.  An intimate setting provided the most intimate listening experience one could associate with a band such as The Magnetic Fields, and Austin, that night, was a little better off, even with Robert Pollard in town. 

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