Jose Gonzalez & Mia Doi Todd | 03.19.08

Photos: Todd Owyoung

Jose Gonzalez creates a perfect harmony between his music and the nature that he writes about.

Washington University Graham Chapel 

The subdued hues of golden yellow and orange create a perfect backdrop for a quiet, peaceful evening full of reflective lyrics and rousing guitar melodies. Jose Gonzalez captures a magical sound in his songs that inspires his audience, which allowed for almost complete silence in the interior of Washington University’s Graham Chapel.

Gonzalez, a native Swede, released his first album, Veneer, in early 2000. His thoughts spilled onto paper and created a beautifully simple acoustic album that quickly became a success in the States, thanks to the appearance of one his songs, “Crosses,” on The O.C. Gonzalez quickly became a cornerstone of the quiet indie-rock movement, right in line with Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, and Taken by Trees.

Mia Doi Todd, a delicate, operatic songwriter, opened with an hour of intimate music that quickly satisfied the audience. The pews and church décor added to the experience, creating a spiritual journey of music over the course of an hour. She played guitar and occasionally harmonium, with a partner playing bongo drums and sometimes singing back-up vocals.

After a small set change, consisting of repositioning of bongos and acoustic guitars, Gonzalez took the stage. He played a set list that included a majority of songs from Veneer along with a couple from In Our Nature, his 2007 release. The audience heartily cheered for “Heartbeats,” which was prominently featured in a Sony Bravia ad when plasma television was first hitting the scene. He would begin to introduce his songs, but between his Swedish accent and his trailing speech patterns, it was hard to make out any of his words. He also played “Slow Moves,” “Crosses,” “Deadweight on Velveteen,” and, of course, “Lovestain,” a popular song that has three dizzying lines of lyrics.

Gonzalez finished up with a three-song encore that continued to wow the crowd. The night was perfect— the rain that softly beat against the stained glass windows fell in rhythm to his constant guitar beats, creating a perfect harmony between his music and the nature that he writes about. | Kaylen Hoffman

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