Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Since I’m a bit of a fan of the Sau Paulo sound and of The Dakota, I sort of decided at the last minute to take in the Céu show. It was only $12 and I didn’t have anything else going on, so why not?

I’ve talked about The Dakota before, so I’ll skip most of the detail except to say this: avoid the mezzanine seats unless you can get along the railing. That means 210-219 are quite good and 220-229 are decent. Sadly that means 230-239 are pretty bad. The sound in those seats is great, that,a never a question at The Dakota, but the sight lines are terrible.

I was originally scheduled to see Céu at the 9PM show on Wednesday, but scheduling concerns meant they were only doing one show each night instead of two. I opted for the the Tuesday show rather than a refund and ended up at #230. I could see the top of her head, shoulders up on the bass player, and the backdrop. That’s it.

</complaining>

There must be something in the water in Brazil, because their musicians are, without exception, absolutely stunning. Céu was certainly no disappointment.

The only way I can describe the Céu’s music, and really the Sao Paolo sound, is to say Brazillian chill-out, mixed with Jazz, afro-beat, and gorgeous, velvety-rich vocals. If you don’t love it after the first listen, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

Céu herself sounds much like Bebel Gilberto mixed with I can’t quite decide who. Regardless, the result is positively mesmerising. She has a voice I wish could sing me to sleep every night.

She was joined on stage by 5 musicians; there was the bass, keyboards, drums, percussion, and a DJ. I have to say that’s a first for me, seeing a DJ on stage at The Dakota.

The show was absolutely great, although I’m reminded of my only other complaint about The Dakota: the shows tend to run short. A typical show there is just over 60 minutes where most of the other stuff I see is 75-90 minutes for the main act plus 30-45 for an opener.

For $12, even with the crummy sight-line, it was more than worth it. I still managed to get a couple pictures during the show, as well as an autograph and picture with Céu after the show.

I did pretty well for a last minute, on-a-whim kind of thing.

Tuesday, 03 April 2007

I know. Three in one day (hell, more than one in a week), but I just like stuff like this: French train breaks speed record.

[via Slashdot]

Why can’t the grafitti artists here do something like this stuff in the Ukraine. If this kind of stuff were on display in the Twin Cities, I’d have to make a photo project out of it.

Then again, so would 1000 other people.

[via Drawn (via Quipsologies)]

I had some time to kill on my way to see Keb ‘Mo at the new Guthrie, so I decided to take in dinner at Wassbi Japanese Steak House and Sushi. It was kind of on a whim, and despite mixed reviews I had read in the local rags.

I can’t help but compare it to my all-time favorite, Origami, and unfortunately doesn’t quite stack up.

When it comes to sushi in the Twin Cities, everyone buys their fish from one of two wholesalers. It’s all flash frozen immediately after being caught and is almost more fresh than if you bought it at the dock. With this in mind, there are very few ways for one sushi joint to distinguish itself from the rest.

One of those ways, and in my mind the most important, is service. I sat at the sushi bar and the service was very attentive, both from my waitress and from the chef in front of me. Pretty much I didn’t want for anything very long. About the time I’d look up for the waitress, she’d be right there.

The second, for me at least, is ambiance. This could stand improvement. The entrance is not well labeled, and you end up coming in through the bar. That wouldn’t be so bad if the bar, and the aisle around it, were larger. Get a happy-hour crowd in there and restaurant patrons will have to fight their way in and out. Once seated, it’s not bad, but not outstanding either. Tables, chairs, the obligitory bamboo, but nothing spectacular. The metal chopsticks are a nice touch, however.

Lastly is presentation; this includes preparation of traditional staples (ebi and sake nigiri, California maki, and hamachi nigiri are my usual test subjects) as well as specialty dishes. Their spicy tuna roll was good, as was the shrimp, but again not out of this world.

In one of the reviews I had read previously, they mentioned the sauces (flavored mayonsise?) that garnished nearly every dish, but I didn’t experience it myself. Perhaps ordering al-a-cart clues them in, or maybe it’s only used on house specialties. Either way, I was spared — I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my sushi. .

Prices were reasonable, about $6 for a standard maki and roughly $3 for a single nigiri. Specialty rolls were all $10 or more. Basically the same as every other sushi place in town.

All in all Wasabi was decent enough to go back if you want someplace close to the Guthrie before a show. Personally I’ll stick with Origami for my regular sushi haunt. Their service and food are always impeccable and the ambiance, especially at the sushi bar, is first rate.