Last night I caught The Swell Season at The Wiltern (Martha Wainwright opened) with Mira and Jill. The Swell Season is headlined by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the co-stars of this year's indie film that could, Once.
The concert was, as my new roommate Hazel is fond of saying, lovely. I'd never seen The Frames in concert before (Hansard and a few others from The Swell Season play together in that band as well), but it's difficult to imagine the band drawing such an adoring following prior to the film's word-of-mouth success earlier this year.
Not that they don't deserve it. Hansard is a gifted songwriter and a winning stage presence, humble ("Tanks, tanks!" he said over and over again in response to adoring screams) but impassioned. Listening to him trade easy banter with the crowd, I imagine that if I ever visited Ireland I'd meet garrulous raconteurs like him in pubs everywhere, each of them spinning stories and songs on their guitars deep into the night while I nibbled on various preparations of potatoes.
Marketa is less comfortable on stage. She forgot the lyrics midway through her first song, and the rest of the time she said little when she wasn't singing. Hansard guarded her with an avuncular presence, the rumors of their romance leaping from screen to stage hovering over every one of their hugs, glances, and whispers.
During the show, a portly, disheveled, middle-aged man wearing an untucked white undershirt pushed his way past us and shoved an unmarked pair of CD-Rs in a white paper sleeve into Jill's hands. Great...another promo for some neighborhood hip-hop band.
But after the concert, Jill glanced at the CD and found a note scrawled in ballpoint pen. It turns out it was a bootleg of The Swell Season in Chicago. We popped it in the CD player on the way home. Damn if it wasn't one of the higher quality bootlegs I've heard. So thank you, portly disheveled middle-aged man in untucked white undershirt, for the digital memento.
During a break in the show, someone screamed "Oscar!" Best Original Song for Glen Hansard? There's a good chance, though Mira thinks he'll have to contend with Eddie Vedder for the Into the Wild soundtrack.