Chicago August 9, 1994 reviewby Vickie Mapes
Milla at Schubas - Chicago, IL (August 9, 1994)
Schubas is a *wonderful* venue, my favorite place to see artists in Chicago. It's tiny, intimate, has great acoustics and since I've seen so many of my favorite people there it automatically gives me a great atmosphere. Schubas is a bar, but the play area is separated from the bar by doors that close, so everybody in the performance room is there specifically to see the artists. Drinks are served there too, but it's a lot quieter and more attentive than other bar venues.
The doors opened at 9:30 and the concert started at 10:00. We sat about 8 rows back, which at Schubas is *close*. We didn't get to Schubas until about 9pm, and there was already quite a line, or else we would have been closer.
Someone had placed promo cassettes on every chair. They had the radio version and the album version of "Gentleman Who Fell" and the album version of "You Did It All Before" on them. In other words, they were the same as the US CD single.
There were *WONDERFUL* sepia-toned posters up all over the place, and I snarfed one up for my friend Elizabeth and one for myself. They weren't being sold (I only saw t-shirts, which I didn't have any money to get) so I don't feel bad about taking them. I found out later there were lots more where they came from, so that made me feel even better about it.
I asked the sound man about show dates, and he gave me what we already had (with NY being the last date) and told me about the Conan appearance. He said he didn't have any Crash Test Dummies dates yet. I had mentioned it was for "the Internet" and a fella standing there asked me a few questions about it. I didn't realize until the concert started that the fella asking the questions was Milla's bass player :-).
Before the concert, the sound system was playing a classical piece by Eric Satie(sp?). I can't remember the name of it, but if any Love-Hounds are on this list and you have the Christmas Special, Kate plays it immediately before playing the piano version of "Symphony In Blue."
There was no opening band, but I don't know why.
Milla came out wearing a "The Fonz" T-shirt (yes, Fonzie from Happy Days) and loose black drawstring sweatpants. As usual, her hair was parted (sloppily) in the middle and held back off her face by bobby pins. The only makeup she had on (that I could see) was garish blue eye-shadow, which, since she's worked with some of the best make-up artists in the world, was surely another joke/jab at her actress/model past.
The band: (spellings are my own attempts and are most likely wrong)
Milla - vocals and guitar (on one song)
Chris Brenner - keyboard, mandolin and melodian (from Des Paines, IL!)
Bjorn Myers - bass guitar
David Limerick(?) - acoustic & electric guitar
Johan Dean - violin, mandolin, key fiddle
It looks as if she's keeping the same playlists for most of the shows. At least, it was the same set she played in San Diego and Hollywood.
(these are in order)
Blue Goat - (introduced as "Return of the Blue Goat" :). David and Johan played this while Milla sat on a stool behind the band)
Ruby Lane - (it took her a while to "get her voice" on this one. She kept doing these little girl voices that had me worried for a while there, but she didn't do it again after this song)
Charlie - (my favorite song, but since she was still warming up, I kinda wish she'd put it nearer the end of the show. After the song Milla laughed about getting spit all over the microphone. She's very unself-conscious...one of the things I like about her)
It's Your Life - (This is where the magic really started to kick in for me. The sound guy - didn't get his name - got all the right levels set, and Milla was warmed up, and the audience was *very* into it)
Strange Behavior - (Milla said that they had to do new songs to keep their sanity. She said that Chris, her best friend and key- board player, wrote it especially for her. This is going to be a killer track on the next album! But then, all the new songs she played are just as wonderful as the older ones. She said "we have to do new songs...as if all these songs aren't new for you anyway" but if the audience truly was unfamiliar with most everything, it was very clear that they loved everything, because all the songs got major applause upon ending)
Gentleman Who Fell - (I *loved* this very different, slow version, except that I don't think she needed the echos. Minor point though. It was beautiful)
Bang Your Head - (During this song, Milla noticed that there were people outside watching through the windows. These windows are high up, so the women must have been standing on their boyfriend's shoulders! After the song, Milla stopped the show to ask the Schubas people if those outside could be let in. Chris (the keyboardist) said "aw come on, we only had one person on our guest list" but no one responded. Finally, Chris just got up and opened a side door to let them in. Even though everyone inside had had paid for their tickets, there was a big cheer when he did that :-). Later, Milla and Chris urged everyone to buy drinks, to make up for the low-priced ($8.00) and free (for those outside people) tickets)
Precious Time - (another new one...slow and melodic and beautiful)
This is where Milla introduced the band. After the introductions, Johan talked about the key fiddle. Milla mentioned that it was an 800-year old Swedish folk instrument, played like a guitar, violin and piano all at the same time. Chris said that the magical thing about it was that Johan's father made them by hand.
Clock - (*very nice*! It seemed as if the song was abbreviated, but maybe that's just because I wanted it to go on forever)
The Alien Song (For Those Who Listen) - (*very nice*!)
Someone from the front row got up and left after this song and Milla said that it was probably someone from the record company and said "record companies are in it for the ART!" and then tweaked again by saying "Just kidding" :-)
Falling - (another melodic, very beautiful song. I now have *zero* worries that the next album won't be filled with songs just as good as the first)
You Did It All Before - (This was a fun and energestic version, though Milla's voice was starting to get a bit tired and the higher notes were tough for her. The band ended this one - as usual I guess - with the advice to "SMOKE HOME GROWN" which I thought was pretty darn cool)
Schubas is the kind of venue where you have to go through the audience to get to and from the stage, and though Milla had said that YDIAB was going to be their last song, the audience knew better :-). They never even left the stage before doing their "encores." The audience was not going to let them go anyway and clapped and whooped loudly. Milla did a Sally Field by saying "you like me, you really like me!" and then said "aren't you all ashamed at yourselves, clapping for a model turned actress turned singer- songwriter?" which prompted a lot of "NO"s from the crowd. Chris took the opportunity to tell us that it's a pure pleasure working with and traveling with Milla.
Can You Bend Your Back Like This - (*very nice*, of course)
In A Glade - (Someone in the audience requested this and Chris said "aw now you ruined the suprise" :-). It was gorgeous, of course)
The band didn't try to get through the audience, instead they left through the side door by the stage.
All in all, a wonderful concert!
I loved all the new songs and can't wait to hear the recorded versions! The audience was terrific, and very supportive. The band was tight and everyone seemed to be having a good time on stage. Milla was talkative and lots of fun.
After the show the house sound system played Stina's album _Memories Of A Color" which was a wonderful suprise. We weren't sure if it was Milla's choice or Schubas' choice, but I later found out that it was Milla and the band who chose it. Stina is from Sweden so it was probably Johan who told Milla about Stina. For those not familiar with Stina, try (if you possibly can) to imagine a cross between Rickie Lee Jones, Bjork and Alison from the band Cranes. She has a new album out (which I don't have yet) but I do have Memories and I really love it.
We sat around for quite a while waiting to see if Milla was going to be coming back down to meet with people. Various band members were walking around talking to people, and breaking down the stage. After about a half an hour, employees began to clear out the room so we went outside to wait. We had just about given up when someone came to tell us that we could go upstairs to meet Milla! I'm not sure how that came about, but it was a nice thing for the waiting fans.
When we got upstairs, there were many people in a line, waiting to meet Milla, so Elizabeth and I hung back and were among the last people to talk to her. I noticed that Milla had a bunch of posters like the one we got downstairs, and was signing those. When it was my turn, I was nervous and stuttering, but Milla is very good at making people feel comfortable immediately. I told her about Internet and RFN, and she said she knew about it and had seen some things from it already.
I gave her Happy's _Warpaint_ and _RhodeSongs_, telling Milla that Happy was another one of my goddesses (along with Kate Bush) and she really seemed genuinely thrilled that I was giving them to her. I know that she's an actress, but I honestly didn't feel as if she was just trying to make me feel better. It might have helped that I said that Happy was a big fan of Milla's music :-). I think she was really touched.
Since others were waiting, I stepped aside, but not after getting a big hug from Milla. I had a camera with me, but unfortunately, I only had one shot left in it (it was one of those disposable jobbies) and I took that one during the concert, not knowing if I'd see Milla afterwards.
I went back to her a few minutes later, when she was free again, and I said that I was so nervous that I forgot to ask her if she was the one who chose Stina to play after the concert. She said "Yes! You know Stina?" and I told her that I had the album that was played, but not the newest one. I also asked Milla if she really was going to be on the cover of "High Times" and she said "Yeah! Who gives a shit about Vogue when you can be on the cover of High Times?" and we laughed. I congratulated her, saying that I was an old hippie who believed in legalization. She was thrilled, and gave me a big handshake (it's true, she has a powerful handshake, which I really like in a woman) and another big hug!
Elizabeth and I hung around a little while longer, chatting with some other people. E got her poster signed by by band members, and I asked the bass player (Bjorn) about his questions wrt the net. He studied computer science (focusing on animation) at college, but never took advantage of having net access. He's interested now though :-). When they get off the road he might ask around among his friends to see if they have net access. I think that fans mentioning the net all along the route has piqued his curiousity.
Well, that's about it. I'd say "don't miss Milla!" except for the fact that she's going to be an opener now. You'll have to want to pay to see the Crash Test Dummies too (which I wouldn't be willing to do, I don't think) and it'll be harder to meet her after the show. That's too bad, because she seems to be very interested in meeting the people who like her music. Well, do try to see and meet her, whenever and if you can.