The still depressing fact that Girls are done for is somewhat remedied by Christopher Owens recently launched solo career. While this of course isn’t the same, it’s hard to argue against the notion that Owens songwriting ability had a large hand in their success. Going into his surprise show at (Le) Poisson Rouge I had reviews of his first-ever show in San Francisco and listens to first single “Lysandre’s Theme“/”Here We Go” as a mild basis of what to expect. But truthfully, I really didn’t know what to expect from the show, and that’s always nice.
Owens came out to a crowd full of industry members (members of Pitchfork, heads of many record labels, MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden), but the show’s tone wouldn’t have you believe that. Owens and his band floated to the stage over a ghostly hush, deemed perfectly appropriate for the occasion. He started the show with what else but “Lysandre’s Theme“/”Here We Go” and off we went down the rest of his debut album.
Lysandre, is a concept album about Girls’ first tour and a woman who he fell in love with during that time. The songs within this concept album are obviously all interlinked. Featured are many 60s/70s singer-songwriter moments which were often heartbreaking and a thing of beauty. But many of my favorite moments from the show were when he went off the beaten track a bit, experimenting a little more. “Riviera Rock” was a near instrumental that stood out from the rest of the pack because of it’s almost tribal funky nature. The songs had saxophones, harmonicas, which added a new element to Owens that we had yet to see.
Owens mostly stayed glued to a seat, comfortably playing the guitar and singing with ease. His solo songs are unsurprisingly reminiscent to Girls songs in some ways, but separate in others. There was a stripped down, personal touch to his new work that was reflective of himself as a singer, and his time spent with Girls. He looked upon his first days coming to New York when Girls first took off, and later, awkwardly pondered what people thought of him as a songwriter.
This was “Love is in the Ear of the Listener”, my least favorite part of the show. Owens questions his ability as a songwriter, and ironically enough, on that song, was the first time I wasn’t impressed by his lyrics. It felt forced and noticeably altered the flow of the show and likely will do the same on the album.
The show last about an hour, with the album and an encore full of covers. I was glad to catch him play this songs in an intimate setting at such an early part of his new solo career. I do think that this is the sort of album that will play better live once an audience has time to familiarize themselves with its material. It’s the sort of stuff that an extra added connection couldn’t hurt, but it also wasn’t necessary as Owens talent is enough to carry the weight, even if he is just sitting down.