UPROXX @ SXSW: Ingrid Michaelson At Central Presbyterian Church

Ingrid Michaelson is, more or less, the most adorable person in the world.

Maura Johnston at The Village Voice wrote an exceptional piece about how not to write about female musicians, so I don’t want this to devolve into a more obvious “oh my God Ingrid Michaelson is the hottest nerd lady ever” stuff, and hell, my story about waiting in line for two hours to see Fiona Apple already outed me as a card-carrying appreciator of the Lilith Fair. I got there early enough to get a seat in the first few pews and nodded my head happily through her hits (like the above, and man, you’ve never seen so many uncoordinated white heads nodding), and by the time I left the Central Presbyterian Church I’d been shocked into some unbelievable appreciation for a poppy Colbie Caillat stereo-type who also happens to be a f**king live music ace.

The adorableness of Ingrid doesn’t necessarily come from how pretty she is (although she is extremely pretty), but moreso from how animated she is on stage, like a friend explaining a story to you, not afraid to look a little stupid. She struck an awkward pose with pointing gestures from front row cameras when she noticed them. She’s been known to sing covers of “Ice Ice Baby” and the “Full House” theme song from time to time. She’s definitely got a Megan Mullally thing going on, in the best possible definition of that.

The “live musical ace” stuff comes in when she launches into a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” that broke my heart so seamlessly it expunged any and all memories of UB40. The gem of the set was the ending, a solo cover of REM’s “Nightswimming,” itself one of the very greatest songs of all time, done with nothing but Ingrid’s voice and a looping pedal. Somewhere near the middle of it my brain finally started processing what it was seeing. She does it all the time, but she was doing it in front of me and I could barely handle it. It felt like the entire point of being there.

And I’m not sure what else to say. Saying “hey, Ingrid Michaelson is amazing at this” doesn’t make much of a ripple, because she shows up in the background of cell phone commercials or whatever and she doesn’t perform in front of massive video screens in eighty-inch heels, but dammit, she’s amazing at this, and I’ve got to say it in the one place I’m allowed.

It was also easily the best music I’ve ever heard in church.

(Note: I didn’t take that video, so thanks to the person that did.)