Regina Spektor to perform at Electric Factory

Ben Raymond

A whimsical, idiosyncratic melody emanates from a candy-apple red Baldwin baby grand on a discrete, dimly-lit Bronx stage.  The steely blue eyes of a Soviet-born pianist and songwriter drift, flow and dance to a series of quasi-harmonious chords and riffs that ebb along a stream of rich, throaty, almost improvisational vocals.  The freezing cold ivories become inflamed in a wildfire searing with emotion and angst.  Rhythmic nuance alters the course of a lyrical pattern out of control.  Effortlessly, her voice conquers a rapid ascension through octaves.  Her exaggerated trill screams jazz; her syncopated flourish morphs the tune to anti-folk rock attitude. 

The face, the sound and the genius in said limelight is that ofRegina Spektor.   Raised in New York’s East Village after emigrating from the Soviet Union at the age of nine, Spektor is, for many, the voice and the personification of alt-rock’s anti-establishment revolution: a revolution whose crosshairs focus not on the political, ethical or religious, but shake the foundation of modern music.  For Spektor, artistic genius is manifest in a breaking of rhythmic boundaries, a conquering of lyric conformity and a sharp turn off the beaten path.  She beats her own … forcefully.

Her style (if one even exists) is like a schizophrenic conversation set to music.  In a single song, one might perceive five octaves and a dozen changes in key. Her fingers walk along the keys with a fragile finesse; each note is pensive and smooth.  As if the world around her crumbles, the pace quickens. 

The thoughtful hobble of rhythm and suave flow of song sees its apocalypse.  Supplanted by a cathartic volley of manic sound, the sexy subtlety of simple pianissimo romancing reaches a violent climax.  Her fingers pound A-minors and crash E-7s; her knuckles bend and splinter. Each bar leading to the bridge is more acidic in its melodiousness.  All of it is magic.

In an age where the mainstream is manufactured, where the consensus is crap and the popular is plastic, Regina Spektor is the pinnacle of originality.  Caught somewhere between jazz and alternative, blues and rock, classical and progressive, she is liberated from the shackles of the generic.  Always dynamic and never predictable, her immunity to comparison or replication is a clear message to the world of commercial music – “Shove it!”  This has made all the difference. 

At a place we all know on 7th and Willow, Regina Spektor takes the stage next Saturday. Home to indie bands and up-and-comers, rock legends and anything alternative, the historic confines of The Electric Factory in Philadelphia will welcome yet another incomparable set. 

If any infinitesimal seed of interest or curiosity has been planted in your artistic consciousness, I urge you … no, I beg you to fork over a mere $30, get on the R5 and take advantage of this opportunity.  Tickets are available on Ticketmaster, and viewing is general admission.  I suggest that you join me and my friends Kate and Emily (the original Spektor fan) at The Electric Factory next weekend and experience Regina Spektor for yourself.  Disappointment is impossible.