Amy Huang
125,099 views| 118  Posts

Swell Swell Season (and no I didn't repeat Swell accidentally)

Hi boys and girls!

Here's an actual personal update for once instead of a mesh of random cool things...

I'm still somewhat sick, though much better than before.  But the coughs still there, particularly in the morning and at night.  And I learned this time that cold viruses can infect eyes... as seems to have happened to several other people I know who are sick.  It's REALLY annoying because I've been wearing glasses for most of the past week or so already, instead of my contacts, yet they are not fully recovered yet.  Plus it means I hafta drive without sunglasses with eyes that are normally sensitive to sunlight already, but MUCH more sensitive when sick... kinda painful at times.  And I heard it might take a few weeks to get better. GRR. GRR.  Hate it! 

Last weekend I went to one of the most amazing concerts I've been to as of yet.  Swell Season at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.  For those that don't know (which is possibly a lot of you), Swell Season consists of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, none other than the two main characters/performers in the indie movie Once.  Tickets for this concert sold out IMMEDIATELY on ticketmaster, so I actually had to get the tickets on ebay for more than face, but it was WELL WORTH IT.  We sat 3rd row orchestra center, which made a huge difference for this type of a concert in terms of seeing exactly what was going on instrumental wise and stuff.

When we first got in a bit late, the opening act.. umm forgot their names... was performing.  They were 2 white people from Australia performing Australian aboriginal music.  They were pretty damn talented.  One of them was playing this interesting drum thing.. hand held and the other hand holds this thin stick.. gosh I wish I knew what the instrument was called.  His hand moved with precision and speed, using both ends of the stick to hit different parts of the drum (more like some sorta skin over a frame).  He also moved his other hand up and down against the back of the drum, changing the sound produced?  It was mesmerizing.  At times he reminded me of Rafiki from Lion King haha.. the way he would squat around and look like he was about to spring up... The other guy was amazing on piano and singing.  At first I was unsure if the music was African or some other type of music, but sometimes I really love that kinda music.  It's beautiful.  During one song the other guy also brought out this interesting instrument consisting of.. hmm.. I have no idea how to describe it.   It was just this vertical small cylindrical thing with levels of ..maybe metal or stone?  And I guess there must have been some sort of strings wrapped vertically across it, because he started plucking the bottom with his fingers.  Really cool chime-y sounds. 

Then of course Swell Season came on.  And words cannot describe the rest of the performance.  The opening act had performed maybe almost an hour.  Swell Season came on at 9:30 and we were thinking.. OK so at most 1-1.5 hrs and we're done.  No.. the set went on for 2 hours maybe more, and it flew by fast!  It began with Glen coming out alone with his broken guitar (the one he uses in Once.. with holes).. and he unplugged any amplification.. walked to the very edge of the stage in front of us, and performed acoustic to the whole huge theatre with everyone being able to hear him perfectly.  The amazing thing about Glen is how well he can sing and how emotional he gets... when he gets into it, his face turns tomato red and his voice seems like it can reach for miles.. it's extremely moving.  The opening song blew me away already.

Of course they did their songs from the movie Once... including Falling Slowly, the song that won the Oscar this past year for best song from a motion picture.  Marketa did her solos too which were pretty but not as moving as Glen's singing. 

Falling Slowly (clips from the movie Once)



When Your Mind's Made Up from the movie Once:



The best, however, were not even the songs from Once.  The best were when Glen's usual band, The Frames, came on stage and performed songs with Glen and Marketa.  Apparently, The Frames have been around for MANY, MANY years and despite sky-high talent, they were only getting more extreme exposure after Glen's success with Once.  The songs they did.. oh wow oh wow. 

These are all musicians where album recordings, tv, movies, youtube do NOT do justice at all.  They cannot capture the essence, the sounds, the emotions... These are musicians that though enjoyable in recording, are just absolutely mind-blowing live.  I honestly cannot see how I can convey how it was like to see them live.  There were songs where you thought it was already at the pinnacle of amazing, but they'd take it up a notch, and another notch, with the whole group of musicians coming together until you're flying high on the music. 

I can post a few youtube vids of performances, but trust me, these are NOT doing justice at ALL.  One of our favorite songs from the performance was Fitzcarraldo (we coulda sworn Glen mumbled Fixcar before the performance)... here's the video:


Fitzcarraldo live:




Also, the opening act came on stage a few times to perform with The Frames, which took it ever the higher... the drumming, the instruments, the talent... OVERWHELMING!!!!


The violinist from the Frames spewed out beautiful accompaniment, but the most amazing violin moment was when he did his solo song... using one of those.. umm I forgot what they're called .. something box. The thing that KT Tunstall used in her one woman band performances that records loops and replays them.  The musician uses some sorta array of foot pedals to control it, then continues performing to the song to their own background singing or violin playing or drumming or whatever.  Here's a performance recorded by someone on youtube. Once again.. does NOT do justice. It was BEAUTIFUL live... sooo sooo beautiful...


Colm Mac Con Lomaire's violin solo:




Also, Glen was absolutely adorable on stage.  The Irish musician has obviously not been taken by the new fame and fortune he probably came into thanks to the geniosity of Once.  He'd bumble when talking.. blabbering and blubbering and being funny as hell.  Loved it.  And Marketa is still shy, cute, and quiet just like in the movie Once. 


Another video of Glen Hansard performing Say it to Me Now (acoustic):



I have no sound at work so I hope these clips are OK. I'll check back at home.

It was a humbling experience by talented humbled musicians.  I'll never forget this concert, and one day, hope to check them out again.  Wouldn't it be awesome to see them in a very intimate venue, like at GAMH, or SAMH, or even the Warfield? 


Long post already but other than that, I've tried to start exercising a bit more again (tried.. but then  I got sick.. grr).  Hit up the Giants vs Rockies game on Tuesday night too.. great 6th row seats down the right sideline close to first base, thanks to my friend for the tickets!!!  WAS FREEZING though!  But a great game, possibly the best one I've seen since the few games I've been to have mostly been VERY slow or sad games. 


Really enjoying a few new albums, particularly Panic at the disco's "Pretty. Odd."  I love their lyrics and sound, even with the slightly new direction on the new album compared to the previous one.  I saw them live at the Warfield a few weeks ago with Motion City Soundtrack (another GREAT album.. Even if It Kills Me..).. good stuff.  Other albums I'm loving in my CD changer.. Leona Lewis.. Secondhand Serenade.. umm.. have a few other albums coming soon. =)


OK ta TOO long.toctype = X-unknowntoctype = texttext

over 12 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
Photo 52526
Hmm Amy in glasses...now that's something worth seeing despite the chances of being infected hehe...
over 12 years ago
Stephen 93 stephen
Oooh.. awesome review... I didn't know that they were touring under "Swell Season".... Definitely going to watch all of the videos.
over 12 years ago
Rottendoubt a4 patrick
that is awesome!
over 12 years ago


The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition. ~ Carl Sagan

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Languages Spoken
english, mandarin
Location (City, Country)
San francisco, United States
Member Since
April 13, 2007