Assembling in the Workman’s after a gloriously sunny afternoon, the first promise of imminent summer, was a beaming crowd awaiting to see the equally resplendent Kimya Dawson. As the venue fills to a nearly full capacity, a youthfulness throughout the crowd is surprisingly notable. Alarming due to the fact that Dawson has been making music longer than some of the attendees have been alive, or at least of an age to listen to her music when it was released originally. In this way, her musical career could be compared to a roundabout; a continuous cycle of wonderfully crafted songs that people find their way to through various paths, The Moldy Peaches, her curative involvement with the Juno soundtrack, and a collaborative album with Aesop Rock. Her fans are varied but they are unified by her songs of spontaneous stories. Dawson will sing the words, “There’s a crack in my ass that light shines through,” during the night in The Workman’s. The crowd do not protest.
Opening the show is Your Heart Breaks immediately proclaiming, “We’ve played the awesomest frickin’ shows in Ireland.” More than a few fans have been made with this statement, more gained with an enjoyable repertoire about growing up in Seattle during the time of Nirvana. An outstanding set from Little Wings follows and Kyle Field is utterly sublime. He is a reminder of how alluring and emotive folk music is, particularly with his performance of ‘By Now’. Another highlight from Field’s set is a tribute to recently deceased country legend, Merle Haggard. The crowd are captivated by Fields, he is warm and wryly witty dissolving the stereotypes associated with his genre.
It is getting late and Kimya Dawson is welcomed on to the stage with a rapturous applause. She takes her place on a stool and with her guitar begins her set, her first in Dublin since 2013, with a sea shanty. Instantly, she has the audience in the palm of her hand. The grip tightens when the chords of ‘Tyre Swing’, dance from her guitar, inspiring a sing-a-long which continues into ‘I Like Giants’, from Dawson’s children’s album, Alphabutt. Two songs in and it’s like being at an intimate gathering in a friend’s house, after the party has ended and the real fun has begun.
The apples of everyone’s cheeks swell with joy when Dawson interacts, which is often. She is very chatty, more so than any other musician. She quips from suggestions of sitting on each other, to memories of Iggy Pop and of Facetiming her cat before she came on stage. Everyone laughs, laughter is a near constant throughout the show. Giggles wave through the crowd with renditions of ‘I Like Bears’, and ‘Alphabutt’, it is impossible to be stone faced when listening to a song describing all the possible and alphabetical variations of flatulence, “And Z is for farts that smell like the zoo.”
Equally, moments of frivolous revelry are met with songs tackling themes that we often try to ignore; social injustice, grief and regret. There are collective silences when Dawson sings about both personal betterment and of social critique. One of her more recent songs, ‘At The Seams’, focuses on the importance of Black lives particularly in America’s unjust and unwarranted gun culture. Despite her quick lyrical delivery none of the intent or meaning are lost. Dawson’s songs are uncensored in honesty and of her life experiences, she imparts advice and shares sentiments of how to live a full and fulfilled life. It is reassuring that she has a significant following amongst younger people who will hopefully appreciate and absorb her teachings to make future generations perceptive and responsible citizens.
Everything about Kimya’s joyous return to Dublin has been immeasurably fun and tremendously heartening. The overall experience from the introduction to Your Heart Breaks, the sweet serenade by Little Wings and the culmination of laughter, good will and song with Kimya Dawson has been more than enjoyable, it’s been memorable. The only way I can justly convey this, is by attempting to capture the evening in the spontaneous and quick Kimya Dawson style to the tune of ‘Loose Lips’;
“Kimya’s fun and Kimya’s sweet, to see her live is such a treat. She sang right into the night, oh that was a great delight.”