Last Night: Kimya Dawson at the Rickshaw Stop

Categories: Last Night, Music
Kimya Dawson
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The Rickshaw Stop
Review by Melissa Baron

Better Than:
Staying home to aloe your fresh sunburn.

There's something refreshing about Olympia, WA's Kimya Dawson. After several songs by her multiple music projects were picked up for the film Juno all her fans collectively held their breath, anxious to see what would happen. Anxious to see if another of their idols would be sucked into the world of mainstreamed independent artists, homogenized into something easily digestible. Fans can finally let out their breath, as Kimya seemed untouched by the fame.

When Kimya took the stage at the Rickshaw Stop she looked just like she always does -- her big mop of dark curly hair poking in all directions, wearing a baggy red t-shirt (a Harry and the Potters band t-shirt, no less), black shorts, white socks and hiking boots. Some fans of her music are alarmed when they first see her live. She sounds so dainty, almost childlike. Touring for her new children's album "Alphabutt," Kimya announced she'd play some of the songs off the record.

The world would be a better place if parents had their kids listen to Kimya Dawson (both her new album and the self titled album from her project "Antsy Pants"). She has silly, fall on the floor laughing songs with many mentions of farts, other songs about "little monster babies," bears (both about the animal and Kimya's love for big hairy gay men) and growing up. However, after the talk about animals and farts, she makes very powerful commentary on things like sharing and being yourself.
"Sunbeams and Some Beans" discusses the importance of being a good person, being self sustainable and that there's a surplus of food in America but because of corporations it's only available to people with money. It's her segue into sharing. "Grandma said to me/If you only have one bean/And you meet someone with no bean/You should give them half your bean/Cause you will be less hungry/If you eat just half a bean/Than if you eat a whole bean in front of somebody with no bean." Pretty poignant for a children's album. She also played songs from her other albums including "Loose Lips," "Tire Swing" and "I Like Giants."

Kimya chatted with the very active crowd. As they yelled out to her she responded, often in her charmingly snarky way with a giggle. She noticed on stage that her nails were dirty and became preoccupied with them, surveying the audience for the best cleaning meathods and then cleaning them right on stage. Later she looked into the audience and asked everyone if they wanted to sit, but there was no room. She invited people to sit on stage and in the wings, freeing up space on the floor so everyone could sit down and watch her play.

While the music was great, the concert had one major problem -- it was so hot. The beautiful and warm day combined with a packed venue heated up the whole space. It wasn't just warm, it was that sticky heat, a combination of weather and bodies all clustered in one space. Hydration and fanning were absolutely crucial. For Kimya, it was worth it.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I loved Kimya since I was a little high schooler in Seattle.

Random detail: Before Kimya played "Hold My Hand" she discussed a really horrible situation involving two kids in Oregon. After leaving an abusive family in Virginia living with their older sister in Oregon, they've been taken back to Virginia and placed in foster care. Please read more about it.

By the way: If you live in Olympia, she has an amazing free choir you should join.
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