From the get-go, it is worth noting that Vienna Teng is a great musician. She writes lyrically compelling songs that provide the perfect platform for the duet of her piano and lovely voice. However, in a recent show at Seattle’s Triple Door, performing as part of a quartet (Teng was accompanied by three solid musicians on violin, cello, and percussion), her talent was truly on display.
From opener “Whatever You Want” throughout the hour-plus show, the music swelled then died back, ranging from an ably-created showcase of Teng’s voice and piano skills to a more robust wave of four-part harmony accompanied by a chamber orchestra. Highlights of the show included City Hall (one of the recipients of the four-part harmony treatment, this song shone), Blue Caravan (hauntingly rendered, with drummer Alex Wong artfully playing his amped wooden box seat/drum), a cover of Radiohead’s “Idioteque,” and new tune “Antebellum,” in which she seemed to be channeling an oddly pleasing blend of Ben Folds and Dar Williams.
The middle of the show saw Teng unaccompanied, her colleagues leaving the stage. She made great use of the opportunity, performing first a gorgeous solo rendition of a new tune, “Kansas,” in which she was bathed in a spotlight full of swirling air, fittingly not dissimilar to an upside-down tornado. She followed that, a capella, with a Taiwanese political song from the sixties; though not a new routine for Teng, it was certainly a gorgeous song.
Vienna Teng is a talented musician, and an excellent presence on the stage. It is nice to see her exploring more collaboration; the accompaniment clearly suits her.