February 9, 2010
The Hotel Cafe
Priscilla Ahn was tonight’s “Special Guest” at The Hotel Cafe. Ahn reflected, “I like ‘Special Guest’. . . I’ve been ‘and more.’ Like when the flier says, ‘so and so’ and ‘so and so’ and ‘so and so,’ ‘and more,’ and I’m the only other one, so I must be ‘and more.’ Yeah. . . ‘Special Guest’ is nice!”
The reason for Ahn’s guest appearance was so she could try out new material before heading into the studio to record. It’s a good idea, really – to see how it feels to play a song live before you record it.
Ahn began the set by warning, “I’m playing all new songs tonight, so you can’t scream out, ‘Play Dream, gd dammit!’” She then paused for a moment, as if to confirm something, “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna mess up every one of these songs.” After taking a minute to tune (and breathe), Ahn struck the first chord and sang her first note. “”Ok, I messed that up. . .”
If that’s the case, then I hope Ahn messes up more often. Note after note, song after song, Ahn delivered a captivating performance. To say Ahn sings songs would be to oversimplify things – Ahn sings stories. Every story she sang tonight described universal aspects of life, love, loss, belonging, and uncertainty. The subject matter of Ahn’s music is universal, but it’s not cliche. In fact, Ahn’s music goes straight to the core truth and vulnerability that you tend to keep safely tucked away.
From a tune about being a lost cause to a song about an awkward elf, Ahn weaves you through a web of emotions and reminds you that you’re not alone. At least one other person has felt this way before and everything turned out okay. Or, maybe it didn’t, but we’re still here, so let’s just embrace it. . . “This is something I must live with,” Ahn sings.
Among my favorite new Ahn tales was a song about taking a different route to the coffee shop one day and meeting a cute guy. Break out of your routine, take a different approach, you will be rewarded. There should be far more children’s books that expound this wisdom. Try something new, do things differently, LIVE.
Ahn also introduced what she called her “one romantic song,” with a working title of “Torch.” You know this story – the one about that one love – THE one love. There may have been many loves before and many loves since, but that one person is the only one who really knows you; the only one you really opened up to. You experienced something more profound and intimate with that person because you allowed yourself to. A lot has happened; life continues to happen, but no matter what, you will always share something with that person that can’t be described. But — if it could be described, it would be this song.
I don’t know if you could hear a pin drop when Ahn performed tonight, but you could hear a bottle cap drop, and that seemed far more appropriate.