100 Shows of 2010 - #10: Megafaun/Sharon Van Etten @ Black Cat, 3/31/10

In my humble opinion, sometimes the best shows are the ones that sneak up on you, the ones that you might not have expected to be one of the best you've seen all year, the ones that are so full of sheer awesomeness that you just can't believe what you just saw. Friends, I'm hear to tell you that the Megafaun/Sharon Van Etten show at the Black Cat was one such show. I went in sans expectations, and left with one hell of a smile on my face.

MINI RECAP: Sharon Van Etten = Delightful! Megafaun = Just plain fantastic! Overall score: A.

When I arrived, the fabulous Sharon Van (not Von, mind you!) Etten was already doing her thing. She has this great sweet yet sassy thing going on, with really top-notch folktastic songs and a killer voice. She told us stories, including my favorite one involving her playing an all-day metal show. Sharon has a disarming stage persona that totally draws you in and makes you totally comfortable, and then she wows with her big, haunting voice and her solid songs. By the time she was done she had totally impressed me, and judging by the constant stream of people going to talk to her at the merch area, I wasn't the only one she had under her spell.

And then it was time for the wonderfully bearded trio of Megafaun (having lived in Richmond, I defintely have a fondness for beards). I wasn't at all prepared for how good they were going to be, or for how much I was going to love them by the end of the evening. "We're Megafaun, we're really thrilled to be here," they began, before launching into a lengthy set of beautiful, rustic, inspired folk. I was so impressed with everything about Megafaun; how their voices compliment one another so perfectly, how they played their instruments just so, and how they totally win the best banter of 2010 award with their amusing little anecdotes and trivia questions. My probable favorite song of the night, "Kaufman's Ballad," was even lovelier than on record, with the soaring harmonies and delicious pickin' on the banjo. They can go from making exquisitely fragile, delicate sounds to steamrolling some loud as all get out noise, and somehow it's all equally gorgeous. There's an overall rhythm in their music that makes me think of a backwoods version of The Band, both in terms of skill and the textures of the music. As with The Band, music seems effortless coming from them. And they're so dang humble and endearingly silly. "We've been accused of talking too much, I don't get where that happens," was just one of the little asides that engrained them into my heart. And then there was the encore. People, take note. The best way to do an encore is to have a singalong in the middle of the venue, not on the stage, surrounded by happy, singing fans. It was a fitting, glorious end to a just-about-perfect show.

I kept chiding myself during the course of their set, for not already being a huge Megafaun fan. But I'm gonna fix that, I can guarandamntee it. I'll tell you this right now, compadres, I loved everything about their set. No lie. When they moved from the stage to the floor, that was awesome. The way they built up a total lovefest between themselves and the crowd. That too, was awesome. Megafaun pretty much came out of left field and bowled me over. Go see this band. Frequently. That's all there is to it.

mp3: Kaufman's Ballad (Megafun from Gather, Form and Fly)


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