The thing about life is that it goes way to fast. You only have a certain amount of time to truly take in everything you want to in the time we have. It is why first impressions are so important. Sometimes you get a first impression and that is what you think regardless of the situation. Sometimes you don’t take into account situations and moods, and you take the first instinct and that’s it. That first opinion is what sticks. Then life moves at a breakneck speed, and you didn’t get a chance to give something a second try.
I listen to enough stuff at this point in my life that unfortunately if something doesn’t blow me away right away, I generally just write it off. My tastes are chiseled enough that I am usually pretty correct and my opinion holds up. But I am also human, so sometimes I listen to something and my kid comes in and distracts me, or there’s a really good rerun of The Simpsons on, or I posted something on Facebook and I keep hitting refresh hoping someone clicks “like”. So my focus isn’t always there, but unfortunately my opinion sticks.
This was the case of Lesbian Poetry. On first listen I came away with nothing. I mean, I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, it just was something I listened to and then went on with my life. But after a while, it started to feel like maybe I was wrong.
There are a lot of people I use for barometers on who to listen to. And several have told me to listen to Lesbian Poetry. There are a lot of people who I don’t really know all that well, but are smart and talented people who know what they are talking about. They all seemed to be listening to Lesbian Poetry, as well. Yet, when I gave him a shot, it just didn’t click in right away, and quite frankly, I just didn’t give it a second thought. But enough people keep bringing him up and enough people seem to be talking about him, that I actually decided to listen a little closer. I’m glad I did.
Elliot Burke is the singer-songwriter and performer for Lesbian Poetry. He has a certain awkwardness to him that is incredibly endearing. Hidden behind that awkwardness, though, is an unrivaled confidence, and that is what really carries the art. The awkwardness is endearing because he is so unwaveringly capable, and he seems to know it.
His music is usually just simple acoustic guitar or keys. The bulk of his songs are love stories, but mostly they are life stories. They are simple stories, but somehow they come out incredibly complex. Like, it is easy to follow along and not exactly steeped in metaphor, yet somehow they don’t just seem like anyone could write them. They all come across as personal and sentimental and that they all belong to Lesbian Poetry.
There is a criticism I’ve read of Bob Dylan that while he is a tremendous songwriter, he is a mediocre performer and usually people covering his songs do a better job. Now, I don’t think that’s true or fair, but it has been something people have mentioned. But what works for Dylan is that his aura and voice all carry a specific and identifiable style behind it. So, even if someone else performs the song, it will always be someone doing a Dylan song, so you might as well let him do it. I get the same vibe, although to be fair in a lesser extent, with Lesbian Poetry. He may not be the most overtly charismatic performer, but if someone else tried to do it, it would ring hollow.
That, in and of itself, is the essence of Lesbian Poetry. It is the whole package. Someone trying to write a song like him but not sound like him or vice versa just wouldn’t work. The style, the substance, the humor, the humility, the confidence and the awkwardness are all essential to the Lesbian Poetry vibe. No one could be Lesbian Poetry but Elliot Burke, and that makes what he has to say that much more important and brilliant.
Try Not To Miss Shows 5/31 – 6/6
Trouble Lights w/ Beefcake, Lane Weaver and Olsen Twinns – Vaudeville Mews 6/1 9pm
This is a pretty awesome show to attend. This is the infamous Sandwich Eatin Crew who alongside Little Ruckus, have come to dominate my music listening lately. This should be a lot of fun.
Parlours w/ Death Ships, Milk & Eggs and Hanwell – Wagner Park (Ankeny) 6/2 4pm
The 2012 Ankeny Unplugged kicks off with a nice, chill show. Lots of talent jammed in here. I have covered Milk and Eggs and Parlours before and they’re amazing. I also really like Hanwell. They have been absent form the scene lately due to school, so it’s nice to have them back.
Benefit For Bradley – House of Bricks 6/2 930pm
A benefit show for a young man who had some health scares, brain tumors and the like. I’m not very familiar with all the bands, but I really like Madam Jules. So good music and a good cause.
Vanity Theft w/ Hath No Fury & Enemies – Bombay Bicycle Club 6/2 8pm
Some pretty voiced rock music. Do you like girls and rock music? Well, here you go.