February 23rd, 2006

February concert: Reggie Watts at The Triple Door

I didn't end up going to any of the concerts that I thought I might when I was looking at the listings back in January. I missed them through a combination of conflicts and general apathy on my part, though a couple shows - the Dragstrip Riot one and another one not listed - fell through because friends got sick. So at the beginning of this week I checked the listings again, knowing that February was running out, but also not remembering anything promising looking from previous reviews of the listings.

This time however I noticed a show that I didn't recall: Reggie Watts, the hardest working man in Seattle showbiz, was playing at The Triple Door, a downtown club I hadn't been to yet. I've always had the vague impression, just from walking by the place, that it was an upscale club, and I'd passed over some potential shows last summer because they were in the $30 range, which might be why I had overlooked the Reggie Watts show earlier this month. However, this show was $16 - still higher than I usually pay for shows, but not outlandish - and it was by far the best possibility left for the month, so I decided I'd go. I also let John P and his wife Amy know, and they came along with their friend Laura.

The Triple Door turned out to be a very nice dinner theater - tables with couch seats are arranged on tiers leading down to a good-sized stage. The venue is located beneath Wild Ginger Asian Restaurant, and the Triple Door serves a similar menu; it's not quite clear from their website whether both places have the same owners. Reggie put on a show well-suited to the venue, giving a cabaret-style performance of comedy and music.

In the first half, dressed in mock-Baroque-era clothing, Reggie sat at a grand piano and performed a series of "minuets", each given a humorous introduction by a lovely hostess. Before one song, the hostess drew a raffle ticket out of a hat, and brought the "winner", a pretty and obviously pregnant woman, on stage so that Reggie could improvise a song for her. As far as I could tell, the winner was not a plant and at least some of the lyrics were improvised for her, though it's possible it was all planned. Two songs featured interpretive dances, each with a different dancer. The first one, the hostess informed us, answered the age-old question that's troubled philosophy grad students, "What is Time?", and despite the silly introduction it was probably the most serious of the pieces performed. The second one wasn't given any kind of explanation, but the dance rather suggested it was an interpretation of the 90's clubbing scene, and the music was greatly enhanced by Reggie's beatbox stylings on the microphone.

The second half simply featured Reggie with a microphone and sampler. Reggie performed a series of bizarre comic monologues, interspersed with songs that he created by sampling himself making beatbox noises for a rhythm track before going into lyrics or just further vocalizations. I was reminded of Bobby McFerrin (who's done a lot more than just "Don't Worry, Be Happy"), and though I don't believe Reggie has quite the same vocal range he could still make an impressive array of sounds and notes. I have less to say about this half simply because it was much more of a "you had to be there" experience; I can't really relate the amusingly strange stories he told, or describe the music better than, perhaps, "vocal hip-hop jazz". I can only say that Reggie Watts is definitely worth checking out, whether solo or with his group Maktub.