WASHINGTON, May 20, 2015 – There are times when you simply can’t prepare for the show you’re going to actually encounter or the obstacles you’re likely going to face before, during, or after the performance.
At any point during a tour, musicians comes face to face with situations that would make nearly anyone’s head spin – including the musicians themselves. When it happens, you just have to chalk it up to the hazards of being on the road.
For better or worse, that’s is the kind of night Jann Klose had recently when he played at Electric Maid in Takoma, right on the border of DC and Maryland.
Before winding up in New York, where he now resides, it was easy to call Jann Klose a world traveler. He was born in Germany, but spent time during his youth in both Kenya and South Africa before returning to Germany once again and eventually settling in the US.
It’s this kind of globetrotting experience that seems to have formed this singer/songwriter before he really became a musician. Happily, the kind of musician this experience created is easy going and open minded.
This proved to be an advantage when Klose ran into the kind of situation he encountered at Electric Maid: the kind of nightmare most performers dread. An issue with the scheduled program’s promotion left the evening in question amazingly under-attended.
The audience consisted entirely of the scheduled acts – Klose, West Lives, American Orchestra, and Nardo Lilly – along with four patrons, the sound technician, and the Electric Maid owner. While such a foulup can hardly be considered a catastrophe as such things go – Jann still performed without much in the way of a hitch – it was certainly disheartening.
That said, Klose – along with the other performers – managed to take it all in stride throughout this somewhat abbreviated night. It’s hard to go ballistic over this kind of thing. What the performance turned into was something half way between what a normal set would be for everyone involved, and the impromptu feeling you get at a rehearsal or jam session.
The evening developed an off-the-cuff vibe as Jann somewhat wistfully interacted with the other bands and the few audience members present as he performed his set. What else could either he or any of his fellow performers have done but create and open dialogue with everyone present? This give and take even led him, the lone performer of American Orchestra, the sound guy, and a regular member of the Electric Maid studio to join in on Nardo Lilly’s final song.
The scene here was obviously unfortunate, but even more so because the Electric Maid feels like a nice place for Jann Klose to play a stripped down set. The venue is normally an art studio with a small raised stage at the back with just enough floor space to create an intimate atmosphere for an acoustic set like the one Jann was set to perform.
Normally, he’s most likely to play with a full band to approximate the sound of his recorded material. But had anyone been there to hear him, a night like this would have allowed him to strike a more emotional chord with the audience and connect on a personal level.
Of course, circumstances did allow him to connect with the few who were actually there, even to the point where he got his two fans in attendance to pick out songs for him to play near the end of his set, something they surely must have enjoyed and will long remember.
From a critical standpoint, it’s hard to really gauge a performer on a lost night like this one. Klose’s songs have a tendency to take on an emotionally haunting vibe, even more so when he’s the lone performer. But here his songs instead took on a playful tone, which did give them an unintentional feel. But then, how else was he supposed to act, rather than simply shrugging his shoulders and leaning into what was turned out to be a surreally absurd night?
Looking at the bigger picture, Jann Klose’s star is on the rise at the moment. He’s the singing voice of Jeff Buckley’s father in a movie about the musician. His songs have appeared on various platforms to the point where a night like the one at Electric Maid could actually feel like a step back in the wrong direction. But the fact that he made the best of a lost evening was a credit to his character as an artist and performer.
It was a strange night for everyone involved. Thankfully Jann Klose isn’t done with the DC metro area after his virtually unseen performance at Electric Maid. We look forward to catching him again the next time he’s back in town.