College students start their Thanksgiving break on a good note with Ingrid Michaelson

Review: The red-headed singer-songwriter brought her charming pop songs to the State Theatre of Ithaca on Saturday, Nov. 22.

Ingrid Michaelson brought warmth to the snow-covered audience on Saturday at the State Theatre of Ithaca with her wit and beautiful music.

Chris Koza and his sidekick Donnie Marvelous opened the show with seven acoustic ballads, including “The Wolves and the Ravens,” which was featured in the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Marvelous held onto his electric guitar throughout the set, while Koza went from his acoustic guitar and harmonica to mandolin, all while singing original tunes from his five albums.

After 30 minutes of smooth indie music from Koza, Ingrid took the stage waving to the audience like they were her best friends. She opened with “Home,” the first track of her newest album,Lights Out, which hit stores in April.

After her next song, “Maybe” from her 2009 album Everybody, Ingrid started to show her personality by explaining the contradictory emotions between the lyrics and the melodies of her songs.“‘Be OK’ is like the saddest song ever, but then people hear the melody and they’re like, ‘It's so happy!’ But it’s not," she said.

She went on to say that “Giving Up,” which she played immediately after, sounds like her saddest melody but the lyrics are not actually supposed to be pessimistic at all.

Looking out at the literal theater that she was performing at, in which everyone was sitting in leather-cushioned assigned seats, Ingrid noticed that most audiences who are forced to sit are too flaccid. “Let’s try to make your audience participation erect,” she joked. As she started singing “Time Machine,” everyone stood up and rushed through the aisles to get closer to the stage and dance. After all of this commotion in which security tried and failed to keep everyone in their seats, Ingrid acknowledged it, saying: "Y’all tried to charge the stage and then y’all got in trouble. Oooooh!” This was also when she took off her “business casual” jacket, reassuring everyone that it “ain’t no thang, I got a tank top on.”

Ingrid Michaelson sings with her band at the State Theatre of Ithaca. (Photo by Abby Rose Sugnet)

Michaelson never failed to engage with her audience, cracking jokes and talking to them between each song. Explaining her songwriting process, she said that she “hate[s] talking about it. It’s hard to explain how one writes a song… This song in particular is very bizarre to me.” She went on to explain that “Wonderful Unknown” was written late at night in her friend’s bed (“Oh yeah, it was so sexy. I was wearing sweats with no makeup on.”). She fell asleep writing it and woke up with her laptop on her chest, which is when she finished the song and recorded it in the same day in one take. “This one is for my mom,” she said, because it was her mother’s favorite.

Between songs, one excited audience member started shouting names of songs they wanted to hear. “Here’s what happens when you call out songs that aren’t on the set list,” said Ingrid. “I start to sweat a little bit…Believe it or not, artists don’t sit around playing their own songs, so I’m not very good at whipping out songs I haven’t practiced. Thanks for liking my music though!”

This unique Ingrid sense of humor continued throughout the show. “I find it very strange that this is my job,” she said, when another audience member shouted out that he loved her. “Having strangers shout compliments as me is interesting.”

The most moving song of the night was the one with the least amount of people and instruments; her band went to enjoy taking shots of whiskey while Ingrid stood on stage alone with her ukulele. “I’m gonna play a song. I didn’t write this song, but I wish I did because it’s like my favorite song. But if I did write it I would be dead cause it’s mad old, so I guess I’m glad I didn’t,” she said, just before starting “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. After her beautiful rendition of the song, she complained about how her band always has fun without her. “Not that I ever take a shot anyway, ‘cause I’m lame," she said. "It gives me heartburn.”

At this point, Ingrid invited Koza back onstage and asked everyone to join a sing-along version of “You and I,” one of her most known songs. When Koza sang the line, “Baby how we spoon like no one else,” everyone on stage stopped playing and started awkwardly spooning each other while standing upright. After about 20 seconds of this, they went right back into singing the rest of the song.

After this she played another one of her popular tunes, “Be OK,” before playing a hilarious joke on the audience. “Please welcome to the stage Sara Bareilles!” she shouted. After less than three seconds of the audience jumping out of their seats screaming, she said, “I’m sorry. S---, don’t hate me,” as the audience sunk bank into their seats. She explained herself saying that she usually starts introducing her next song (which she wrote with Bareilles) by asking ifanyone knows who Sara Bareilles is. She never felt like she got a good enough reaction, so she tried a new method with Ithaca, which she felt terrible for afterwards. The audience roared with laughter as Ingrid told everyone she would never do that again.

The last of her 16-song set was “Girls Chase Boys,” her most popular single from her last album. The uproar of the crowd demanded an encore. Ingrid bragged about the fact that she was in an a capella group at SUNY Binghamton, where she went to college. Ingrid and the other three members of her band broke into an a capella version of her song “Warpath,” before heading back to their instruments to play “Afterlife” to close the show.

The crowd walked out of the State Theatre with glowing faces.

Even if Ingrid Michaelson doesn’t normally make it onto your playlists, don’t pass up an opportunity to see her in concert. Her humor combined with her incredible live performances are well worth the 30-or-so bucks that it costs to buy a ticket.

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