Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Tallest Man On Earth at Cannery Ballroom

Keith and I saw The Tallest Man On Earth, aka Kristian Mattson, last night at Cannery Ballroom. Even though I've listened to The Wild Hunt many, many times, I wasn't sure what to expect. We thought the show was going to be upstairs at Mercy Lounge, which is much smaller than Cannery. Could one man with a guitar really fill that huge space with sound? Would he be as charmingly gravelly and vulnerable as he is on his albums? And does he really sound that much like Bob Dylan? Yes, yes, and yes!
I think he looks ever-so-vaguely like Clark Gable here. Source
When Mattson took the stage in a dirty wifebeater looking like a wiry version of Stanley Kowalski, I wasn't sure what to think. I didn't think he sounded like himself during his first song. He sounded like he was trying to sing rather than deliver his usual raw, reedy chirp. That changed with the second song, and I whispered to Keith, "Aww! He had stage fright, how sweet!" From that moment, I loved everything about the show. Mattson is a natural performer with a wonderful sense of timing, delivering his lines so that the audience hangs on every word, eagerly anticipates the next line, and knows exactly when they're meant to sing along. Without that sort of rapport, a technically good show can't be great. This show was great.

Credit where credit's due, y'all.
I was very interested to see that Mattson is a man's folk singer. I like him, but Keith loves him, and I bought these tickets mainly for Keith. The fans who were going craziest, singing along most earnestly, and yelling "Woo!" at key moments were all men. With his wifebeater and swaggering stage name, Mattson can sing about emotions and expose male vulnerability without ever losing his dudeliness: "Here come the tears/But like always, I let them go... Love is all, from what I've heard, but my heart's learned to kill." Yeah, he's a man's man, and all the men present seemed to love him for it. This observation was confirmed when the girl behind us whispered to her friend, "This is, like, a total sausage fest." Yep. But it was awesome, and I'd definitely see him again.
There was nothing weird at the merch booth, as I'd hoped, but halfway through the show the booth was restocked with this gorgeous print, like something straight out of Wes Anderson's tropical vacation. Keith was like, "BOAT." I was like, "Whoa, it's going to match the bedroom decor perfectly!" It's by Nashville's Isle of Printing, who did a great train print for The Tallest Man On Earth's summer 2009 tour.

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