I've rarely witnessed a performer less comfortable than Anika Sunday night at the Crocodile. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the show. On the contrary. I was there for the music, and the music was good, but I couldn't ignore the svelte singer's visible discomfort. Fortunately, it wasn't significant enough to ruin the set. If anything, her stiffness fit the British band's cool, dubbed-out reverberations.
After a sparsely-attended set from OC Notes—now there's a guy with charisma—four musicians materialized and began to play without a bit of fanfare.
Seconds later, their Berlin-born front woman joined in. Looking shell-shocked, the black-clad blonde walked to the comfort of the mic stand, planted her feet, and brought the Teutonic cool that makes her self-titled Stones Throw debut such a glorious listen, yet she looked as if she would have rather been anywhere else.
Also covered by Cher, the Pretenders, and Sia.
That impression never changed. Throughout the evening, she would occasionally shift the stand to another vantage point or lift a neatly manicured hand to emphasize a lyric, but she didn't say one word or engage with the audience in any way (by the time she went on, a more respectable number of people had arrived).
She did make eye contact with a few individuals, including myself, which I found disconcerting, especially since she looked disappointed—that the crowd wasn't bigger, that more people weren't moving, that she'd eaten a bad burrito? I'm probably projecting. In any case, the tall, graceful woman in front of me didn't stop shimmying or swaying for a minute, so I can't say no one was feeling it.
The outfit played most of the material off Anika's nine-track album, one of my favorites of 2010. There were also a few surprises, like "Love Buzz," "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)," and "Once in a Lifetime." Considering that Nirvana and Grizzly Bear have already tried their hands at a couple of those selections, I wouldn't rate originality as one of the lady's strongest suits, but she made each her own.
After the Talking Heads song, for which she consulted a lyrics book, the show was over. Without saying a thing, she left the stage. No "thanks," no "goodbye."
The crowd seemed momentarily confused. A few minutes later, we started to disperse. It was around 11:30pm. During the chilly walk home, I couldn't stop yawning, but after I climbed into bed, I couldn't get comfortable. I tossed and turned, tossed and turned. This seemed to go on forever. Anika may not be the world's greatest performer, but I'll be damned if she didn't get under my skin.
I took some pictures with two different cameras, but it'll be at least a few days before I know whether or not they turned out (Finest Kiss, however, posted this Twitpic). I hate technology.