Kimya Dawson concert review

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Kimya Dawson

Cuban Club, Sat., March 22

Photo by Katie Silbiger (who kindly responded to my request below)

You’d think a lone performer with nothing but a busted-up acoustic guitar and a clutch of “message” songs wouldn’t stand a chance in front of an all-ages skater crowd squeezed together in the rain. Especially when a sizable chunk of that audience wasn’t necessarily waiting for her — 30something folkie and married mother Kimya Dawson — but huddled near the front of the Cuban Club patio stage in Ybor City Saturday for indie act of the moment, headliner Band of Horses. Obscure singer-songwriter-turned-Juno-kinda-star Dawson won over the audience, though, with witty songs about suburban ennui, politics and self-image issues delivered in an endearing, talky vocal style. Plus, she exuded plenty of coffee-shop charisma.

Dawson appeared genuinely surprised by the crowd’s enthusiasm when she took the stage at 9: 10 p.m., more than an hour late due to the weather. The rain came down in a steady drizzle —sometimes harder. “Wow, you guys are crazy,” said a bemused Dawson. “I feel bad under here while you guys get wet.”

Despite the dreary weather, a significant portion of the crowd of reportedly 2,500-plus braved the wetness for Dawson’s quirky tales. The performer wore her hair in a big, unruly fro, had on a grey hoodie and cut-off, floral-print shorts. Basically, she looked like many of the tweenage concertgoers gazing up her and screaming: “I love you.” Interestingly, Dawson, who is a gifted lyricist, surveys some extremely dark subject matter — drugs, alcohol, sexual harassment, suicide — but laces her songs about “how living in a small town sucks ass” with just enough juvenile and absurdist humor not to scare away the kids who shop at Hot Topic. The parents in attendance? Maybe they didn’t notice. But one mom did look concerned when Dawson mentioned cocaine in a song and it received such a loud, positive reaction from one concertgoer that the singer giggled mid-song and had to start the verse again.

For the finale, Dawson invited female audience members on stage to dance. While they grinned and twirled blissfully Dawson smiled and sang: “Fuck Bush and fuck this war.”

We had camera issues Saturday night during Dawson's set, so if anyone has pics of her from the Cuban Club that they are willing to post here please email me at [email protected] (and also "cc" me at [email protected], we've also been having email issues lately.)

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