Eliot Bronson – Exton – Eagleview Town Center, PA – 2003-08-26

Eliot Bronson
Where: Exton – Eagleview Town Center, PA.

When: 2003-08-26

Having been a recent convert to the goodness that is Erin McKeown, I was excited to hear that she would be playing a free show in a park not too far from my house. Despite the day-long drizzle that threatened to cancel the performance, my cohort for the evening and I decided to drive out to Eagleview just in case and fully expected to miss the opening act if the show was indeed still happening. It was still on, and due to a rain delay the show hadn’t even begun yet.

Much of my feelings about this show are a result of the venue. I won’t complain that the show was free, but Eagleview turned out to be some sort of creepy planned community owned by a corporation. The “town center” is the commercial hub of a community featuring tons of business and industrial space surrounded by residences (so that the employees of said businesses can walk or bike to work, according to the company’s website). It’s quite upscale, and the majority of the attendees at the concert were 30- or 40-somethings with lawn chairs and tons of children in tow. Since I’m mostly used to dark, crowded bars with a younger, but over-21 crowd, I was not at all prepared for this.

Opening act Eliot Bronson began his set shortly after we arrived, but frankly I’m not sure what he really played. Too many people were talking and there were too many playing children to hear anything at that point. Add into that a circular semi-paved seating area and you’ve got a setup that only allows people right up front to see or hear. It seemed Bronson only played a few songs because he was gone quite quickly after he arrived.

Without too much delay Erin McKeown took the stage. I was immediately surprised at just how petite this woman is, especially compared to her voice. She came equipped with a bass player and a drummer to help round out her sound since she uses a variety of instruments on her albums. McKeown played a fair number of songs with the majority coming from her 2003 release Grand. The set list highlights included opener “Blackbirds,” Born to Hum,” and “Slung-lo.” Erin did a minimal amount of talking between songs – generally short quips telling us what a particular song is about or what was going on at the time she wrote it.

I was definitely pleased by Erin’s performance, but the venue and crowd left me nearly wishing I had skipped this show. I still have no idea what was going on with Eliot Bronson, and Erin McKeown didn’t seem particularly keen on playing there. I felt uncomfortable enough that I don’t blame her one bit if she just wasn’t into it on that night. I’ll be seeing Erin play again, but next time I’ll make sure it’s at a venue I’m already familiar with – free or not.