Monday, December 17, 2012

You Shoulda Been There: Ingrid Michaelson's 6th Annual Holiday Hop

by Jennifer Boyer

Ingrid Michaelson is the girl of my dreams. I'm talking about the chick who I want as my best friend. Or the sister I never had. If you have seen her live in concert, you know the feeling. Last night, the Staten Island native successfully pulled off her annual Holiday Hop concert, selling out New York's Webster Hall. Festively dressed in a shiny gold lame dress, Michaelson strapped on her acoustic guitar and wasted no time kicking off her set with an invigorating "Palm Of Your Hand."

The singer-songwriter put a stop to any dozing off that audience members might have been susceptible to after a long day with "Fire," the lead track off her most recent studio album Human Again. A swift strings arrangement opened the tune as Michaelson performed sans instrument, one of the only times she wasn't seated at the piano or strumming her beloved red ribbon-bedecked ukelele. "We're going to play a song," proposed Michaelson. "I wrote this song with a friend of mine and it became this huge hit over in Europe. I think the only people who bought it here were you guys. Anyways, here's my massive non-hit," she concluded before "Parachute."

"I was told I couldn't bend over," joked Michaelson, bending down to switch up guitars. "Whatever is the merriest and most festive of sad is what this song is about," explained the pianist before the 6-8 time waltz "Men of Snow." "We're going to do a song about experiences that I had right here in this great city of ours," announced Michaelson. "I think the subway gives you a good idea of the kind of people that live in Manhattan." And thus began the story which inspired the singer's tune "Blood Brothers." Snippets included: "I'm in my coat next to the other girl. We're all smushed in. No skin on skin. We were sort of snuggling almost. I just had this weird intimate moment with a strange on the train. Cut to a week later. The group of girls gets on the train I was on. They were of the high school persuasion..." What to know the rest of the story? You shoulda been there!

"I never wear dresses when I perform anymore," the sassy singer admitted. "That was all I had to say." While prepping for the night's next selection, Michaelson psyched out attendees when she announced the son's co-writer: "Her name is Sara Barielles. It is her birthday today." As fans began shrieking for a golden guest appearance, the evening's hostess burst our bubbles of hope: "She's not here! She couldn't be here on her birthday. Whatever," she facetiously added. All sarcasm aside, Michaelson performed the duet "Winter Song" with her leading ladies Bess Rogers and Allie Moss (guitarists/backup singers), who filled in for Bareilles. 

"Applaud for people who aren't married," demanded Michaelson. "You can sleep however you want in your bed. You're not falling into the toilet seat," explained the pianist before career-catapulting "The Way I am." Unbeknownst to the audience, the singer's birthday was the following day. Her live crew presented her with a birthday cake as the entire venue serenaded the artist with an awful rendition of "Happy Birthday." "Oh man, I'm thrown off my game," conceded a shocked Michaelson. Upon blowing out the candles, Michaelson took a moment to refocus. "What are we doing?" A holiday mashup medley including "Jingle Bells," "White Christmas," "Dreidel Song" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" is what they did. 

"This is going to be interesting." Michaelson mused aloud. "We've never done this before." The guitarist and her band then marked the beginning of what could be a live show staple as her hit "Be OK" was performed with everyone playing another's instrument for the first have of the song. "That was our first time ever doing that." Back to where they were all most comfortable and skilled, the Brooklyn-based singer and her band knocked out another fan favorite, "Maybe."

"I hate when people call my songs cute, but this song is very cute," grudgingly granted the songwriter. "I get it." Many ticket-holders were finally satisfied as "You And I" was sung acoustically by Michaelson and her musical family - all tight and cozy - crowded in together around one microphone. A special treat awaited those who made it out to Michaelson's 6th Annual Holiday Hop when everyone sans her bassist Chris Kuffner exited the stage. The independent artist (still belongs to the label she founded) sang "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" while Kuffner (husband of Rogers) accompanied her, simultaneously showing off some serious technical skills. Man, you should have been there to witness those fingers of his working that fretboard. 

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