Mia: Club Goddess

Elliott Smith Jr. High March 30 Higher Ground, Winooski, Vt 

March 3 Cabaret, Montreal, Quebec

I love Elliott Smith. I just must let you know I am completely obsessed with his music. Prior to the two live shows, in Winooski and Montreal, I had never seen him perform live, only listened to every ounce of music he has released over the years repeatedly for months...needless to say, my expectations for these shows were high.

The performance at Higher Ground was a great way to ease the shock of seeing him for the first time and experiencing the music I had grown to love, up close and personal. After the initial shock I was able to truly rock out in Montreal and enjoy a slighlty different set and a completely different vibe. A well rounded rock and roll jaunt with Elliott Smith (I guess I kind of went “on tour”).

The Portland, Oregon based singer/songwriter has released four solo albums, two albums with the rock band,Heatmiser, and was prominently involved on the motion picture soundtrack for Good Will Hunting (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for the song “Miss Misery” ). He came out of the non-rock star “indie” scene and was thrown into the limelight after the Oscars and the critically aclaimed major label debut, XO (on the mega-huge Dreamworks label). Prior to XO, he had released his music on the Kill Rock Stars label out of Portland and was creating quite a devout fan base through touring and college radio play.

Smith’s third release, Either/Or, attracted a more widespread following, mostly due to the Good Will Hunting fame and paved the way for a commercial success. Ironically the indie-rock “nobody” icon was now on the charts as the emotional singer /songwriter.

Smith’s unique craft of songwriting is the magic of his music. His simple word couplings and poignant chord progressions and notes paired together create true brilliance.

The highlight of the first show was the acoustic mini- set featuring, “Say Yes” and “Christian Brothers”. The rest of the show rocked on with an array of my favorites, “Cupid’s Trick”, “Independence Day”, “Ballad of Big Nothing” and “Rose Parade”. The drummer and basssit complemented Smith quite well with exceptional backing vocals, best on “Pictures of Me”. Before I knew it, the intimate showing was over and I was left shocked and amazed (as I thought I would be), but I knew I still had one more night with Elliott.

I truly got to concentrate, enjoy and absorb the show at Cabaret more than the Higher Ground due to the lack of distractions and a more intimate setting. Smith’s humble stage presence seemed almost painful at times; this man doesn’t want to be a rock star. I felt at times throughout the show that he would have been more comfortable playing behind the band instead of being a front man (the inherent risk of pouring your soul into music for people to digest, I guess.) The set was mostly the same, with the addition of a few new songs and an intense version of “Bottle Up and Explode”.

WOW! Elliott Smith two nights in a row....it doesn’t get much better for the Club Goddess than that.

Mia Sladyk is THE Club Goddess, so the rest of you pretenders had better just cut it out.