Herman Dune / Jolie Holland
Lakeshore Theater; Chicago, IL

In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't supposed to write this review. A friend of mine wanted to write for TMT, so I flexed my (near-negligible) muscle and got us on the list for the October 27 Jolie Holland show at Lakeshore Theater. He was supposed to write it up, and I would send it to my editor, and we could all swing up into the saddle and ride off into the sunset. As of this date, however, he has not written up the show, so I have decided to soldier on and write something.

The Lakeshore Theater is most often a comedy club, and initially the advantages of such a venue were obvious: the sound was good, booze was easily accessible, and everyone could comfortably see the musicians without having to touch each other. After awhile, though, it just seemed kind of detached. There was no energy moving between the audience and performers. People felt free to chat a little.

This was especially a problem during Herman Dune's set. The band is touring as a duo, with David-Ivar handling guitar and lead vocals and Néman doing drums/bongos and backing vocals. They looked and sounded excellent up there, but I couldn't shake the feeling that they were a little intimidated by the silent, seated audience. David told a little story about being confused as to why Chicago music stores do not have special sections set aside for Chuck Berry, and between the adorable accents and the goofy dancing, the audience livened up considerably. Almost all of the songs played were from their latest release, Next Year In Zion, but the older songs held up remarkably well considering the stripped-down arrangement. For a treat of a last song, they invited Rachel Blumberg up to play bongos. A++++ would ogle Frenchmen with excellent facial hair again.

Admittedly, I am almost totally unfamiliar with most of Jolie Holland's music, including her latest record, Living & the Dead. (My failure of a friend was supposed to keep a setlist. He did not.) Holland's records have always lulled me into a sort of alt-jazz-folk stupor, and while the addition of a bassist, guitarist, and drummer kept things varied in tempo and dynamics, I still had trouble staying engaged. She has a wonderful quality to her voice; it's just not my thing. I was busy all day. It was a 10 o'clock show that didn't start till 10:30, so she didn't go on till almost midnight. I can give you any number of excuses, but no real solid information about Jolie Holland & Co's performance. It was acceptable. The audience seemed into it. If you like her records, you should probably catch a show.

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