AnnieB's Detour: Thao Nguyen (t61 Reflections and Concert)

One of the early artists I learned about from t61 was Thao Nguyen. This may be strange, but I vividly remember "Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)" being the first song I ever double-bumped, and it was a rather costly, early bump too. However, it was well worth it when I was “poor” since I had listened to the song over and over again. What’s kind of interesting is that the listener who had “discovered” the song was my first-ever subscriber, which in turn ended up being the first listener I subscribed to (both cases excluding Sam and James, of course), and is now the first fellow 61er that I’ve met in real life…and out of all things, we caught Thao Nguyen in concert. Sort of brought things in full circle for me.

While temporarily sitting on a side bench inside The Echo (a hip, low-key, small venue in Los Angeles) before the show started, I looked down and about five or six feet in front me, I see these cowboys boots, which I knew was a signature of Thao’s…and long and behold, it was her standing and selling her merchandise at a table. I didn’t have the guts to talk to her or anything, but from what I observed, she seems really cool, charismatic, and down to earth.

It was almost inevitable for me to see Thao with the Get Down Stay Down perform. There was quite a bit of handclapping and stomping involved, and you guys know how much I like the handclapping. It was even syncopated too. They certainly brought the energy on the little stage. It also helped knowing her songs beforehand too because I don’t think these guys in front of me really knew who she was since they were pretty stoic and one kept checking his phone. On the other hand, I had these two girls right next to me who were upbeat and excited to see Thao, which made up for them initially trying to push me over to the side in attempts to move closer to the stage.

Occasionally in between songs, Thao would just say whatever came to mind. One was mentioning how she wanted to shop for some vintage clothing to wear for the show (there’s lots of vintage stores around the Silverlake/Echo Park area) but ended up wearing an outfit she’s been wearing for much of the tour, so she joked, “Don’t come any closer, really, don’t.” I wish I had pictures to share since I had a really good view, but unfortunately the few that I took came out all blurry since I hadn’t taken the time to learn the different functions on my relatively new digital camera. I’ll figure it out someday, but at least I found a picture on her myspace where she's wearing the same shirt dress, so that works.

All in all, I liked it. From what I can tell, most of the songs came from her latest album We Brave Bee Stings and All. Would've been nice to hear "Chivalry" but they ended up playing another song called "Tallymarks" off her previous album, Like the Linen. Anyway, being Vietnamese myself, it’s nice to see an artist like Thao break the conventional mold of indie folk rock. Too bad I couldn’t bring my friend who is also named Thao Nguyen (yes, it’s a very common Vietnamese name). Unfortunately that Thao has different taste in music and went to see Leona Lewis perform at the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Though you won’t get the same energy as from a live show, you can check out her studio performance on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic by clicking here. Below is a video clip of "Big Kid Table" from the live session.

Excerpt from an interview conducted by The Guide: Los Angeles Times:
Q:What do you want for yourself 10 years down the road?
A: I think I have very realistic goals. To be honest, I’d like to get a salad spinner…

Thao’s website
Thao’s myspace

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