The Shout Out Louds, one of the acts at this years Spiegelworld
Spiegelworld returns to work its Seaport magic
By Lee Ann Westover
By virtue of the setting alone, an evening at this years Spiegelworld will be well worth the ticket price. The opulent theater a vintage spiegeltent constructed of teak with walls of velvet, stained glass and mirrors was once all the rage in early 20th century Europe.
Now few spiegeltents remain, and New York is lucky to have one back for its second summer season from July 2 to September 30 on Pier 17 behind the former Fulton Fish Market. Like last year, Spiegelworld planners have disguised the industrial surroundings with tidy shrubs and a tranquil beer garden (open to anyone) and have curated a spectacular line-up of talent. The itinerant big top opens with Absinthe, the hit Weimar-style cabaret show from last year, now starring some new performers, along with the racy La Vie, performed by Les 7 Doigts de la Main (The 7 Fingers of the Hand) from Montréal. After the scorching cabaret numbers close for the night, bands from all over the world will take over the intimate venue. The following are a few highlights from this summers roster of extraordinary acts.
Shout Out Louds
Monday, July 16 and Wednesday July 19, 11:30 p.m.
The Shout Out Louds are just one more piece of evidence that the Swedes beat all when it comes to creating excellent pop music. Taking a different path from ABBA, Max Martin (Songwriter for Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, et al) & Ace of Base (ABBA redux), the band draws heavily from The Cure with its shimmery guitars, plaintive vocals and wealth of tom toms. Their songs are highly addictive without being annoying and effortlessly hip without being pouty or exclusionary. The band made stateside fans with an appearance on One Tree Hill and its accompanying compilation CD. Currently, The Shout Out Louds are on tour across the U.S. with Spiegelworld being their exclusive NYC engagement in support of their impending full-length CD, Our Ill Wills and the U.S. release of the fantastic EP, Tonight I Have to Leave It.
Tuesday, July 24 and Wednesday July 25, 10 p.m.
DeVotchKa is perhaps best known for their ubiquitous presence on the Grammy-winning soundtrack for the 2006 little-film-that-could, Little Miss Sunshine. Their work on that project garnered them much attention, but their continuing success is guaranteed by the quality and originality of their music. Not just your typical indie guitar-bass-drums outfit, DeVotchKas rock-meets-mariachi-meets-gypsy sound makes good use of their bouzouki, sousaphone and theramin. Well all hope they play their version of Siouxsie-Siouxs longingly beautiful The Last Beat of My Heart from their latest release, Curse Your Little Heart. Even if they dont get to that song, its unlikely any of us will be that disappointed. DeVotchKa is young girl in Nadsat, the language Anthony Burgess invented in A Clockwork Orange, and the band approaches all their tunes with the same (slightly strange) freshness.
Tuesday August 7, 10 p.m.; Wednesday, August 8, 11:30 p.m.
Born of a Mixteca mother and Scottish father, Lila Downs is a true child of the modern musical scene. She counts both Ella Fitzgerald and Elis Regina as influences in her seductive and hectic intermingling of Latin rhythms, gypsy music, Mixteca song, rock, jazz and even reggae. The mélange translates into her stage performance and costumes, as well, where shell sport a long braid and traditional embroidery with a miniskirt and black leather boots. Downs smoky and affecting alto has taken her as far as the 75th Academy Awards, where she performed her nominated song Burn it Blue, from the film Frida. The word Mixteca takes its meaning from the Aztec word for cloud-people and Lila Downs music is indeed heavenly.
Dan Zanes and FriendsSing-a-Long at the Spiegeltent!
Sunday, September 23 at 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.
Grammy-winning family band Dan Zanes and Friends pull some old material off the shelf in honor of their performance under the Brooklyn Bridge. The bands 2003 album, Sea Music, is a compilation of historic mariners songs recorded for Festival Five Records. Zanes is the winningest of frontmen, with his purple suit and shlock of muppet hair, but his pedigree as a rocker in the 80s band The Del Fuegos ensures that Mom and Dad will find plenty to like as well. As some of the songs hell perform that night will surely have been sung by mariners in the South Street Seaports past of ships and shadows, the music should be just about as moving as it is engaging and fun. Although the Spiegeltent has flourished so well for so long, it may not survive the throng of dancing, singing, Oshkosh-wearing superfans who will certainly be in attendance for this rare, small-scale show.
Spiegelworld is at Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. Tickets to all shows available at spiegelworld.com or ticketcentral.com.