Since I could only take a picture of Rachael Yamagata in concert with my substandard Sony Ericsson camera phone, you will just have to take my word for it that the picture above is really Rachael Yamagata.
Rachael Yamagata dived in with her first song, Letter Read. Dressed in all black, with her Pan-Asian face and her messy black bangs, she bellowed the angsty chorus: "my love, my love, how could you do this to me?" with all the aggressive energy that angry, young jilted females are known for. Sometimes described as "Janis Joplin mets Fiona Apple" - it's easy to stereotype Rachael Yamagata. Afterall, her songs are often pop-fusion renditions themed around heartbreaks and unhappy relationships. Someone in fact described her music as, "Musice to Slit Your Wrists To." But she remarked how she's always disappointing journalists that she's not the dark, depressed, wrist-slitting artiste that they often expect. The Rachael Yamagata that was onstage tonight was brassy, a little playful, a little naughty - a straight-shooter with a certain degree of self-awareness of her own romantic indulgences. She has a sardonic sense of humour that she peppers throughout the concert. She admits that humour is important, "or else we'll all be killing ourselves."
At one point a male voice from the audience cried out, "I LOVE YOU, RACHAEL!"
"What's your number?" she quipped. "We'll talk after the show." Later at the piano, she just said matter-of-factly, "We'll talk. You'll break my heart." Hmm. A sense of humour, but also a self-awareness of a jaded attitude to love. Throughout the concert she's constantly commenting on the abysmal state of her own romances.
She told the audience how one of the song she just performed was initially entitled, What About Steve - but she later felt people not named Steve might had problem relating to the song, so she came up with, What If I Leave?" She recommends it for those relationships when you can't decide to stay or leave:
"Just press 'PLAY' and watch him or her.
"Go on, leave. What the FUCK do I care?
"I'm sorry. I promised I wasn't going to swear. But I also have this policy about being true to myself."
And we the audience just applauded thunderously. And as a follow-up , "It's a song about a guy who dicked me over."
We love this girl. She's unpretentious - warts and all. And she's flirty with her audience - sluts that we are. Someone in fact called out, "I wish I know how to quit you, Rachael!"
As she introduces the next song she's going to sing, "It's on the EP. And EP stands for - " Embarrasing pause as she struggles to remember. She turns to her band members for help.
"Extended Play," she finally recalls. "I'm not sure why it's called 'Extended Play' when it's so short."
Rachael also jokes how after shooting her mouth off tonight, no one's going to mistake "this foul-mouthed, alcoholic, suicidal slut," to Norah Jones anymore. She describes Norah Jones as being "more classy." But she's happy just to have a little corner of her own universe.
As you can see from the picture on the right, I now own 2 Happenstance CDs. How did that happen? I found out during the concert that there was going to be an autograph session after the concert. So I bought another copy of the CD just to get it signed.
The autograph session was only supposed to be 1 hour, but with the photo-taking, the hugging, and Rachael trying her best to exchange a few words with each and every fan, they had to extend the session - just so she could at least sign something for everyone.
She promises to come back. I hope she honours this promise. I will definitely be there.
I had a lovely time tonight. To be honest, Rachael sounds a little raspy tonight, her voice cracking like a 12 year-old boy in mid-song at one point. But that did not diminish the pleasure of the concert. We come to the concert because we are already in love, and it is only to see the object of our affection upclose. Rachael Yamagata may not have won many new fans tonight but they will definitely look out for her next album and her future concerts.
Meanwhile, here's a lovely picture of Rachael Yamagata in case anyone is interested. Much better than my uploads, ya?
I love how she insists on writing her own bio for Happenstance on Amazon.com:
Happenstance…the never can be…
Main Entry: hap·pen·stance; Etymology: happen + circumstance: A circumstance especially that is due to chance. - Merriam Webster Dictionary
I apologize for insisting on writing my own bio, but I just can not be satisfied with another’s account of my psyche when even I don’t understand it myself. Welcome to the world of this indecisive control freak hopeless romantic…
Happenstance, produced by John Alagia (John Mayer, Dave Matthews etc.), is a collection of songs inspired by my obsessions, often love related, but not always. It’s about the battle between chance circumstances and the belief that everything happens for a reason. The title and the back cover addition of ‘the never can be’ suggest that I’m not really endorsing chance, but, in fact insisting that there must be a reason for repeated broken hearts – perhaps a promise of a better situation, learning experience, the greater love etc. It’s a circular argument… and it’s merely a matter of ‘happenstance’ that the title is what it is anyway. Without the hopefulness of reason, how could anyone weather the highs and lows of relationships and this delightful junk called love.
Look to the second album for a more cynical approach in which it all goes to hell and nothing makes sense and chance is winning…