Wednesday, February 06, 2013

14, 29

Tonight, Rufus Wainwright himself graced us, the rural 'burbs next to the famous university, with his presence. There was a very elderly crowd, which was not quite what I expected for a Rufus concert, but exactly what I expected for the venue. The evening began with a previously unannounced Wainwright sister who wasn't Martha, who Wikipedia tells me* attended the same high school and college as Lena Dunham. She first played a song, then introduced herself, and yeah, perhaps the word "nepotism" came to mind (as did the possibility that there are an infinite supply of musical Wainwrights), but she was actually quite good. She made it abundantly clear that she was well aware no one had come to see her, that everyone wanted Rufus or at the very least the sister they had heard of, whose talent had already been verified. And this kind of dragged on, with songs broken up by questions getting solicited from the audience. And the audience for the most part didn't have any, although this one guy wanted to know what her favorite Rufus song was, and then her second-favorite. She promised Rufus was imminent.

And then, Rufus! In a velvet-looking blazer, with a huge, vaguely holographic brooch, a massive scarf that was more winter-wear than accent piece, and what I believe were hiking boots. Appropriate for the terrain, I should know. His hair was short, but, like, Rufus-short, so still scruffy.

Oh, and there was music as well. He sang a bunch of songs at the piano and guitar, complained about a cold sore, forgot much of his own oeuvre mid-performance, seemed at various points on the cusp of a nervous breakdown, complained in possibly offensive terms that "Gangnam Style" was the reason his latest album never hit it big (which, fan as I am of "Out of the Game," no), and then made like he was done when he wasn't really done, as is done.

He then returned, in much stronger form, and "The Art Teacher," sigh. A song about male beauty, sung from the perspective of a woman, but by a gay man. I will spare you the 10,000 words I could toss off on that and just say that it's a lovely song. (Also "April Fools" - hearing it will always make me feel 14-ish, which is all the stranger a feeling the older one gets.) "Going to a Town" felt oddly out-of-date, very much a song of the Bush II presidency, certainly not of second-term Obama, but he sure performed it well. And "Hallelujah," a little treat for the not-as-Rufus-enamored in the audience.

And, Rufus will always be Rufus. Even if he's forgotten his own songs. Rufus is early high school, and as Jennifer Senior told us, that time stays with us forever.

*Also from the Wikipedia sink-hole: Loudon, and thus Rufus as well, are descended from Peter Stuyvesant. My mind is blown. Suddenly, everything makes sense.


Andrew Stevens said...

I'm pretty sure Rufus Wainwright is the result of a breeding project aimed at producing the Kwisatz Haderach of Canadian folk music. He turned out gay which made things awkward, but they still managed to breed him to Lorca Cohen and there are high hopes that his daughter, Viva Katherine (McGarrigle) Wainwright Cohen, may be the Promised One.

Phoebe said...

I've Googled "Kwisatz Haderach" and, perhaps? Rufus does have a song, "Gay Messiah," so maybe he could have been it? But yes, he does have a daughter whose musical debut is already much-anticipated. My only remaining question is how Peter Stuyvesant came to be the beginning of this line.

Andrew Stevens said...

Ah well, it would be a good joke, but the people who know Rufus Wainwright's biographical history are not likely to be familiar with Dune and vice versa.

The Stuyvesant connection is probably just a coincidence. The main line the Canadian Bene Gesserit were working with must have been the McGarrigle line. Loudon Wainwright III was both American and not from a particularly musical family (until his own generation anyway), so he would have been added to the breeding project as a serendipitous find once they tempted him to Canada to marry one of the McGarrigle sisters. Probably their original first choice of mate for Kate McGarrigle committed suicide young or something (that being an occupational hazard for folk singers), so they had to improvise by importing an American.