Dark Dark Dark's Nona Marie on her all-female Choir side project

Categories: Concert Preview
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Photo by Jonathan Bruce Williams
Unless you're Bobby McFerrin, you can probably understand the oxymoronic comfort that comes with being sad. There's solace to be found in the drawn shades, the blanket piles, and the tears. Few understand this better than Nona Marie and the Choir. The harmony-fueled side project of Dark Dark Dark's Nona Marie Invie sees melancholy and makes beauty, and they're the best alternative to comfort food this side of heroin.

The Choir -- consisting of 11 women -- will play Friday night for the seventh running of Radio K's bi-monthly series "Off the Record Presents" at Hell's Kitchen, alongside Hot Freaks. The Choir's flair for the melancholy could generate the opposite of the rock 'n' roll rep of Hell's Kitchen, but that's where Nona's choir thrives -- when all is sad and lonely.
"I think it's our job to transform the space and make people like us," Invie tells Gimme Noise. "Sometimes it's worked out really well, where people are ready for a pause, and they're ready to just go into a trance."

That the choir - which also includes Emily Jean Snyder, Chrissy Chookiatsirichai, Erin Lynn Smith, Lindsay Noble, Annika Kaplan, Emily Temte, Antonia Eberhart, Jess Buns, Sophie Weil, and Kate Farstad -- sings all covers (mostly from the '70s) doesn't mean there's a lack of originality here. Invie uses the choir not to dress these songs up with ostentatious vocal gymnastics, but rather as a means of stripping them to their core, bringing the lyrics to the forefront. A single piano is all that supports the voices.

"It's about highlighting the drama of the words, the feeling of the songs and using the choir as an instrument to highlight that drama," Invie says. "I think that always feels good -- adding vocal swells, adding all of these voices to this one part that I think is very important."

In doing this, Invie knows that she's turning your heart on its end, because these songs did the same to her. Without the self-consciousness that comes with writing sad material, she's able to confidently, if not wryly, exhibit these songs that speak for themselves. The method makes for some truly gripping moments; "Please don't confront me with my failures / I had not forgotten them," in the Choir's interpretation of Jackson Browne's "These Days," never sounded so tragic.

It's still up-in-the air whether the Choir will continue recording or start scribing their own arrangements. Right now, it's just something that came up during the downtime of what Invie called a "working vacation" for Dark Dark Dark, who plan to release an album and go on tour in the spring. Invie did speak of secret dreams of recording a Choir-tinged album of Neil Young covers at Sacred Heart in Duluth. But for now, the Choir is keeping it casual. You can check out all they're recordings at their bandcamp.

At the risk of breaking the heart of the internet, here's "Save Me a Place" (skip to track 2) -- a cover that miraculously makes Fleetwood Mac's original sound like a good (nay, great) song. I don't like to feign the existence of objective truths when it comes to music, but I have to question the heart in anyone whose legs aren't rightly knocked from under them by this rendition. Rarely is sad music so ... well, sad.


OTR Presents VII:  The seventh in a bi-monthly concert series at Hell's Kitchen curated by Radio K's local music show, Off The Record.  NONA MARIE & THE CHOIR (Nona Marie of Dark Dark Dark) &  HOT FREAKS  10 P.M. DOORS on Friday, February 17.  MUSIC starting promptly  $5, 18+ at Hell's Kitchen 80 S. 9th St. Minneapolis. Click here.


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