Thalia Zedek at Iota, Arlington, VA, Sunday 21 November 2004
Although guitarist Thalia Zedek spent years fronting underground bands such as Come and Uzi, the turnout for her show Sunday night at Iota was sparse. The small audience would have disappointed any band (Zedek played with drummer Daniel Coughlin and violist David Michael Curry), but it did turn the performance into a cozy, intimate concert.
Zedek's trademark melancholy moan was perfectly suited to her downhearted lyrics; she dropped to a whisper on such lines as, "Don't ever look back / . . . you will lose everything if you do." Without Coughlin's percussion to propel her songs forward, it's likely that her detached, growling voice would have drawn out her music to a lugubrious pace.
Curry's viola added hints of brightness to Zedek's dark tunes and deep vocals; on "Temporary Guest," his swooping melodies smoothed out the roughness in her voice and pulled together the song with a few glimmering flourishes.
Zedek introduced her final number, "Hell Is in Hello," as her mother's favorite song from her new album, the confusingly titled "Trust Not Those in Whom Without Some Touch of Madness." In the middle of the song, Coughlin's rapid pounding of his cymbals sparked a period of instrumental mayhem, with Curry alternating between viola and trumpet and Zedek hunched over her guitar with her back to the audience. The song returned to a calmer verse to round out her 50-minute set.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 23 February 2004