In Los Angeles this past week, Filter magazine hosted its third annual Culture Collide festival – a four-day music spree boasting sets by the likes of the Big Pink, Blood Red Shoes, Laetitia Sadler, and Zola Jesus, and culminating in a free outdoor Sunday block party headlined by Of Montreal, the Wombats, and Niki & The Dove. But one of the highlights of Culture Collide had to the acoustic set by Patrick Wolf at the Echo Park Methodist Church on Friday evening.
Technical difficulties caused Patrick to go on 20 minutes later than advertised (“We have one of the most complicated acoustic shows to set up ever,” he later explained when apologizing on Twitter), and he did express some mild discomfort playing in such a sacred setting. (“The last time I played in church I was like, 10 years old; it was traumatic,” the Catholic-raised singer joked onstage.) However, the intimate and unusual show – the last date on Patrick’s 2012 U.S. tour – was very much worth the wait, and it was practically a religious experience for the L.A. fans in attendance.
Performing in what one can only assume was his own version of Sunday best (pantaloons, pirate blouse, laurel-leaf hair accessory); accompanied by two multi-instrumentalist ladies who played the saw, piano, and accordion; and alternating himself between the piano, harp, and mandolin, Patrick opened his show with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Armistice,’ from 2011’s Lupercalia. During his 45-minute set, he of course performed ‘Vulture’ (with its fitting line about “losing my head to Hollywood”) and ‘House’ (dedicated to the temporary Laurel Canyon dream home he’d been living in for the past two weeks; “I’m a huge Joni Mitchell fan, Neil Young fan, Charles Manson fan,” he quipped). Patrick also engaged in a random-between song fan Q&A about New York versus L.A. (“I’m six-foot-four, so I appreciate the distance between buildings here”) and his love of California’s sea lions – banter that was almost more entertaining than the music itself.
The show ended with an epic, nearly seven-minute-long piano rendition of ‘Magic Position’; though his microphone stand broke midway through, which Patrick jokingly remarked was an “act of God” and/or a sign that he shouldn’t be playing in a church at all, he finished the song magnificently for the audience for downright worshipful fans.