The first time I saw The Blow was about a year ago. No one would go to the Architecture in Helsinki show with me. I went by myself. The opening act went on. It was a girl. Standing there with a mike. There was no live music. Just a girl singing over some pre-recorded beats and music. And she was flailing about, dancing the way someone would dance while standing in front of their mirror. I must admit I was confused. I couldn’t concentrate on the music, I was almost embarrassed.
The second time I saw The Blow was in the spring when she opened for Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins. Once more it was just the one girl. Just the mike. But this time I started listening to her lyrics. This time the dancing didn’t seem so out of place. It still felt personal, like I was seeing something not made for public consumption, but now rather than being turned off I was intrigued. I got the music.
Since then I’ve listened, still haven’t warmed to every song, some are catchy and beautiful, some are silly, some are an invitation to dance some to laugh. And so I saw her again for the third time last night. And realized something new about the music. She’s not a band, at least not in the current formation. She is a performance artist. When I first saw her I never imagened that she would be a headliner – she’s an act. But I have to say I was wrong, the show she put on was exactly what I find appealing in performance.
Khaela Maricich, the singer/songwriter/performer, knew exactly how to engage the audience. Right away she started talking about the ‘karaoke’ style of her performance. It’s fun to do karaoke to your own songs in front of an audience, she admitted, and you should know how to do it too. So as she sang she demonstrated how a song is written. “Hey Boy” was sung to a water bottle standing in for the boy in question, a water bottle that got trampled as the song continued. She sang “Pardon Me” as she explained how she wrote it, after a one night stand, lying in bed, hoping that something would come out of it. She explained how she got out of bed sang and danced and danced and suggested for others to do the same.
The performance was simple and personal, drawing the audience in while making us feel that we are experiencing something that is transcendent to that moment. After the show I was speaking with someone seeing her for the first time, he reflected the confusion that I had first felt. It’s not that her performances have changed in the past year. It’s just that her music and style is one that you need to take the time to appreciate and it is so very worth it.
Selections from lyrics that popped out to me last night below:
From TRUE AFFECTION:
Your depths made a pressure that punctured my works and all your fluids couldn’t tolerate the force of my thirst
I love the place where we shared our tiny grace
But because it’s real doesn’t mean it’s gonna work
And true affection floats
True affections sinks like a stone
I never felt so close
I never felt so all alone
From HOCK IT:
The excitement is the chase, to catch your gaze is like a bird within the hand.
It began so nice, but now I’m trapped inside,
It seems this cage for me must be your plan.
Your mean tricks, like the wetness of your lips
When you say, “just put your heart here in my hand.”
And though I know you might hock it,
I can’t keep it in my pocket. I’ve tried, but I can’t. Oh man.
And when you’re holding me
we make a pair of parentheses.
There’s plenty space to encase
whatever weird way my mind goes,
I know I’ll be safe in these arms.
If something in the deli aisle makes you cry
you know I’ll put my arm around you
and I’ll walk you outside,
through the sliding doors,
why would I mind?
From FISTS UP:
fists up! for all their faith
in one preceding a face
they really did believe
that if they’ve hung on long enough
that you’d come around
and finally let it show
and all their hopes would be rewarded
for their impetus to grow
utopian peace would fall across the land
you’d reach over for my hand,
you would’ve really wanted to hold my hand
and i don’t want to come to the point of this song because the point of this song would happen to be so long[long long long long long long long]
It was perfect you know
with just one little problem
the fact that it turns out
you don’t really want it
my love is a fortress,
my love is a Louvre
but it cant ever thrive
if i’m forced to keep proving it.