Ingrid Michaelson: Sweet pop energy at Florida Theatre

March 31, 2010 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

How much excitement can an indie-pop Internet sensation from New York generate in Jacksonville? Quite a bit of rambunctious energy, as Ingrid Michaelson discovered March 24 at the Florida Theatre. The engagement wasn't Michaelson's first trip to the First Coast, although the crowd was bigger the second time around. Michaelson's first visit was to Jack Rabbits a few years ago. "It was scary in there, but the people were cool. I was afraid I'd get a third arm or herpes", Michaelson said from the stage. Lest she seem ungrateful, she advised the audience that "if you go to Jack Rabbits, bring a tetanus shot."

By Beth Slater

That sort of dry humor permeated Michaelson’s set, in which she performed nearly every track from her 2007 record “Girls and Boys” and about half of her new album, “Everybody.” She had a well-rehearsed backing band with electric and acoustic guitar, drum, keyboard, electric bass and an accordion for one song. Michaelson played ukulele and keyboard, and even the drums.

Michaelson had been encouraging the crowd to be more lively throughout the night. She commented that the seating prompted the audience to behave “like proper ladies and gentlemen.” At the opening of “Be OK,” someone yelled “this is a great song!” She responded with “eight of you are on crack over there. You’re on Ingrid crack.”

Michaelson’s work is reminiscent of other young female singer-songwriters – Lisa Loeb, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos – but with less anger and drama and more honey. Her biggest hit, “The Way I Am,” was used in an Old Navy commercial and has a sweet tenderness that makes a single girl long for a lover, just to have someone to dedicate it to: “Cause I love the way you say good morning, and you take me the way I am.” The opening melody of that tune brought enough cheering to make the theater move.

Michaelson could have been in the audience herself. The crowd was predominantly young professional and female. She encouraged fans to sing along to what could be the anthem of fans who are like her, “Die Alone”: “I never thought I could love anyone but myself, Now I know I can't love anyone but you, You make me think that maybe I won't die alone.”

Michaelson may not have had the name recognition of what may be considered the Theatre’s most famous performance, Elvis Presley in 1956, but she entertained the crowd mightily and they loved her. Cara Salimando opened and Mat Kearney co-headlined, but Michaelson was the crowd favorite. A great number of folks arrived late in the Salimando set and left before Kearney took the stage.

Michaelson noticed the love from the audience and said she’d like to take the crowd home “and put you in a box. When I’m having a bad day, I’ll open the box and you’ll cheer and I’ll feel better.” She called the show one of the most “bizarre, strange individual experiences of my life.”

One song missing from the set was the piece Michaelson wrote specifically for television show “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Keep Breathing.” However, she performed solo on a great cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” and closed the show with a hilarious performance of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” in which she and the band danced.

Florida Theatre was a terrific venue. This was my first opportunity to see a concert there – I’ve attended art shows and a summer ballet performance. The 1927 former movie palace has comfortable, spacious seating and incredible interior decoration. I was pleasantly surprised to find that beverages are allowed in the theater.

Michaelson’s show was a great one that has me excited about the venue. The energy she brought to Downtown on a Wednesday was infectious, and the spring roster should do well to continue the mood.

Upcoming Florida Theatre performances include R&B band Boyz II Men on April 8, singer-songwriter Elvis Costello on April 27, Ben Harper on April 29, and Irish band Flogging Molly on May 1. Ben Stein will speak April 6 as part of the Florida Forum and the musical “Church Girl” will be in town April 17-18. Jacksonville University’s College of Fine Arts presents “Chess: The Musical” April 9-11.

-Beth Slater