Thao and The Get Down, Stay Down (with Xiu Xiu) March 31 at Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center

thao.jpgThao Nguyen brings playful folk-pop to Lemp Arts Center.

Thao Nguyen made a damn catchy record when she wrote the songs on We Brave Bee Stings and All (Kill Rocks Stars).  At any given time, I might easily have one of several songs stuck in my head.  It could be the first song, “Beat (Health, Life, and Fire),” the energetic pacesetter for the album.  Maybe it’s “Swimming Pools”, one of those songs that makes you think about being a kid, specifically a kid on summer vacation passing time at the public swimming pool.  There might be a slightly better chance of “Bag of Hammers” repeating itself in my brain.  This song has been getting a bit of (indie) radio play and, if you look on YouTube or, you’ll find a ridiculously adorable video involving blobby clay figures wondering around a blobby clay city and randomly starting a band.  Think Sesame Street in the 80s. 


To clarify myself, I must note that listening to Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down isn’t exactly a folkie romp through sunny childhood memories.  Even with the playful instrumentation and a smattering of banjo and horns, there is a darker side to these songs.  This shows in “Fear and Convenience,” which contains lyrics that ask: “Did he hurt you/In a new way?”  23 year old Nguyen has a voice that has cannot escape comparisons to Chan Marshall, but the she’s certainly not a carbon copy. Her energy and vocals remind one more of Erin McKeown.


Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down are touring this spring with Kill Rock Star labelmate, Xiu Xiu.  They will be stopping in St. Louis on March 31st at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center.  The show’s a bargain at $7 and will begin at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door, at the venue in advance, or at  If Thao’s energy and performance is anything like We Brave Bee Stings and All, it really should not be missed. | Jaffa Aharonov


RIYL:  Erin McKeown, Jolie Holland, Cat Power

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