Cat PowerStubb's, Friday, March 14
Clear skies and perfect temperatures made an evening of music in Stubb's big back yard seem like the perfect thing. The line that formed around the corner and down the block for the early set by Cat Power suggested that many had the same idea. Her new album, the formidable You Are Free
, and all the accolades thrown its way even months before any of it saw the light of airwaves, surely had something to do with the throngs in attendance as well. This was a highly anticipated set, as Chan Marshall, the sole force behind Cat Power, has over the course of just a few albums become something of an icon in the indie rock world. Her music is unique and odd -- often obsessively quiet and moody to the point of exhaustion -- and her persona has taken on a life of its own. She's also known for spotty live performances: Songs and sets abandoned or sabotaged in the face of dissatisfaction are not odd occurrences. This evening's set started out languid, building slowly to a loudness not often attained in her shows. For a while, it seemed, there was rocking. A sultry blues treatment of "I Don't Blame You" off the new album led to a brief visit to Moon Pix
material, and then it became apparent that all was not going well. Marshall's reply to the enthusiastic applause was, "Oh, that sucked, and you know it." A brief attempt at a solo song with piano was abruptly aborted, and an attempt at the blues grinder "Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground" was cut short as well. "Sorry," she said, sounding sincere but resolved. She rose from her chair, bent to the mic for another "Sorry," then left the stage. Oddly enough, no one seemed to mind.