Eels - live in Washington, D.C. (Cover Artwork)


live in Washington, D.C. (2008)

live show

A synagogue. A documentary about a deceased physicist. Sounds like a concert, right? Wrong. It sounds like an Eels concert. Mark Everett (better known as E), on a constant quest to reinvent himself, set the bar of originality higher than ever on his Washington, D.C. stop of the Meet the Eels tour.

With the Jewish eternal flame lighting a colossal stained glass Star of David setting the backdrop, E treated the small, pew-seated crowd to passionate, low-key renditions of Eels favorites from 10 years and counting -- but not before subjecting us to an hour-long documentary on the work of renowned physicist Hugh Everett III, E's late father. A surprisingly engaging documentary, "Parallel Universes, Parallel Lives" recounted the life of Everett III and his relationship (or lack thereof) to his son, Mark, and his impact on the world of science (as the title of the doc suggests, Hugh Everett III pioneered what is generally referred to as the Theory of Parallel Universes).

Fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the documentary, a bewildered and intellectually stimulated crowd cheered as E and his bandmate, The Chet took stage and immediately trodded into their set. Giving preference to softer songs due to the intimate nature of the venue, they breezed flawlessly through stunning ballads, each proving mastery of a variety of instruments including guitar, piano, drums and musical saw among others. They even delved into theatrics in what might have been the highlight of the night -- switching off playing drums mid-drum solo, keeping the beat perfectly intact. Further, they ensured a lively environment by pausing occasionally for lighthearted readings from E's recent autobiography by The Chet and including the playback of the message left on E's phone by President Bush's secretary, politely feigning interest while declining his invitation to the show due to short notice.

Humor is a necessity for Eels, as most of E's lyrical content is solemn and passages like "Nothing hurts like someone who knows everything about you leaving you behind," a reference to his sister's suicide, are even more potent in person. E's sappy but sincere take on the world was in full effect, and he gave me a night I will never forget. Not only was it the night I watched a documentary on a physicist in a synagogue, but it was the night that this strange happening was followed by a faultless performance by one of today's best songwriters.