Chicago’s Ribfest attracts thousands of people each year over the course of a couple of days. Mostly because of the selection of ribs from many of the city’s barbeque joints. And the beer. But it also hosts a collection of bands that play throughout the day and night. If you stick around long enough and pull your head out of a plate of ribs every now and then, you can find a hidden gem. Such was the case this year, when I came across Thao and The Get Down Stay Down. Wikipedia tells me that they started in Falls Church, Virginia (near D.C.) and have since relocated to San Francisco.
Thao Nguyen brings a unique style to the stage. Her voice has a little Bjork in it and a touch of Feist, but she plays her songs aggressively and with her whole body. She can jam on that guitar – she started playing when she was twelve. Her songs have a definite poppy feel, but there’s also a decidedly rock undertone and attitude. I feel a little PJ Harvey as well, but much less macabre. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down are downright catchy. Her lyrics are interesting and she has a way of accentuating certain words, while pausing in the middle of other words to carry the rhythm throughout. She seems like a cool, down-to-earth person too. (Read an interview with Thao Nguyen and see some of her podcast as she answers questions from fans.)
I could see Thao and The Get Down Stay Down going places. From what I understand, some of her music has already been featured in a television commercial. I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continued, or to hear them on a movie soundtrack or two.
Anyway, have a listen. Below are two videos taken from her performance on June 13, 2009. Below that is a video of what is her most popular song to date, “Bag of Hammers.” And below that are her remaining tour dates.
July 9, 2009 Harison Opera House Richmond, VA
July 10, 2009 The National Richmond, VA
July 11, 2009 Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre Roanoke, VA
July 25, 2009 Sawtooth Music Festival Stanley, ID
Sept. 12, 2009 Monolith Festival Morrison, CO