Ingrid Michaelson charms audience with personality and powerful vocals

Michaelson displayed powerful vocals during songs like "Ghost," as well as personality and originality with a cover of REM's "Nightswimming."  Photo by Will Montei
Michaelson displayed powerful vocals during songs like "Ghost," as well as personality and originality with a cover of REM's "Nightswimming." Photo by Will Montei

“Lady Gaga doesn’t drink water in front of her fans,” Ingrid Michaelson told the audience part-way through the show as she sat down by her piano and drank some water, “did you know that? It makes her too human or something.”

I wasn’t very familiar with Ingrid Michaelson previous to her concert at Calvin. That’s not the case anymore. Now, I might consider myself something of an Ingrid aficionado. Between her hilarious, rambling banter and beautifully stripped down set, anyone at the show, really, should know her quite well by now.

Ingrid put on an amazing show — one of the best I’ve seen. Not owning a single one of her albums, I had no expectations before the show. Perhaps that makes me the best person to be reviewing it, because I wasn’t biased in any direction beforehand.

So, even though the opening notes of each song didn’t set my heart aglow with recognition (like they probably did for most of the audience), I was still able to enjoy every single song as if I’d been a fan all my life thanks to the solid performances from each band member.

She was playing an “acoustic configuration” of her songs that night, which really just meant there were a couple less members — she still had a full band, complete with a drum kit and, occasionally, an electric bass. As a result, her music took on a gentler tone than I believe it would have otherwise.

“Acoustic” performances scare me because most of the time they’re really just lamer versions of the real thing. No one would take an acoustic set by their favorite band over a regular set. No one. However, in Ingrid’s case it (seemed to me to) it served to benefit her sound — her music still sounded full and complete. And the power of her music really rests on her voice, anyways, so doing away with a little extra noise couldn’t hurt her.

But her music, excellent as it was, was only half the show. The other half was just listening to her as she rambled and told stories in between her songs. Stage banter always runs the risk of being painfully awkward. Some artists, though amazing, were not meant to talk to people, which is why Ingrid’s talking was a breath of fresh air. Her involving stage banter seemed to come to her so naturally, not only adding humor to her performance, but a large dose of sincerity.

Sometimes, her ramblings would lead her into impromptu songs. One such time, as she was discussing Lady Gaga, she decided that Lady Gaga has a baby goat named Phil, which then led to her singing and playing piano about baby goats to the tune of “Poker Face.”

She also had no qualms with talking to members in the audience, actually listening and talking to a few of the more chatty ones. One disgruntled student was upset to find out that she was married, and putting on the tone of a royal princess, Ingrid told him that he must duel for her love out on Commons lawn.

Ingrid Michaelson let down her guard enough to be a goofball in front of everyone, removing some of that awful aura of celebrity we like to rub on musicians, and everyone at the show benefited for it. She is truly talented musician, and she put on a memorable show.

About the Author

Will Montei

Will Montei is a Chimes staff writer and arts and entertainment on-call writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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