Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vagabond Opera @ Radio Room at The Edison

I've been to The Edison a few times during happy hour and to Radio Room only once, and Tuesday night was the most crowded I have ever seen it. I saw a tweet from Dan Cox, who does PR for The Edison, that said "RADIO ROOM!! 500plus reservations! ARRIVE EARLY, KIDS!!!" I didn't even know the place could hold that many people! Guest bartenders (Joseph Brooke - Edison's new director of Spirits, Brian Miller from NYC's Death & Co, and Erick Castro from SF's Bourbon & Branch) and special cocktails were making an appearance for the night.

I hope some of the special cocktails become regulars on The Edison menu because I really enjoyed the Old Fashioned-like Porco Rosso, but I have to say my favs were the sweet flavors of Sancho's Lady and the bubbly Miss Behavin' (I'm talking about the drinks here. Get your minds out of the gutter!).

In a hidden away corner, shellfish specialist Christophe Happillion was plating British Columbian Fanny Bay oysters. He was kind enough to allow HC and I a taste of some of the best oysters I've ever had, something definitely worth coming back for.

Vagabond Opera
I was listening to some of their music on MySpace the day before the show and thought it fit in really well with Radio Room. I wonder how bands are selected to play there. Do bands ever contact The Edison? Or does someone actively seek out bands that would be perfect for Radio Room? Is there an audition process?

Vagabond Opera actually reminded me of the gypsy sounds of Fishtank Ensemble. Little did I know, the very same band had also opened for Vagabond Opera the night before Radio Room! What a great combination. I think Fishtank Ensemble would also be great for the next Radio Room. I can also picture The Squirrel Nut Zippers there. The Edison could draw in a lot of swing music fans, not that they need any help in that area.

The music I heard that night really fit their self-described brand of "1920’s European Cabaret! Vintage Americana! Balkan Belly Dance! Neo-Classical Opera! Old World Yiddish Theater!" Everything they played fit in with at least one of these descriptions if not all of them in one song! I loved their cover of the famous Quizas, Quizas (Perhaps, Perhaps). Great, sometimes operatic vocals, that somehow fit in perfectly with the song. GourmetPigs enjoyed their version of Scott Walker's Amsterdam. HC thought the band sounded like "a rambunctious fusion of big band, cabaret and Monty Python's Spamalot."

The six-piece band put on a fantastic stage show. At one point, two of the singers came down from the stage to dance with some obvious fans of the band. Later on, they threw playing cards into a cheering crowd as they sang. I love it when bands involve the audience.

I was really impressed when I saw a musical saw being used in one of their songs. It added an unexpected ghostlike melody to the music. Mattatouille said it had an oddly familiar sound to it. I think anyone who's a fan of sci-fi shows or movies would say that.

Some of the songs' story-telling features were akin to The Squirrel Nut Zippers' The Ghost of Stephen Foster.

I guess that's where their "Old World Yiddish Theater" classification comes into play, and I have to say I think it's a fantastic combination of theater and gypsy swing.

Songs by Vagabond Opera:

More reviews on this month's Radio Room from:
LA and OC Foodventures
Caroline on Crack
Gold Members