Thao & Mirah - New Parish 5/3/11 © Moses Namkung
Photos by: Moses Namkung

A decidedly female audience flocked to Oakland’s The New Parish for a decidedly female led night of reverie: a nice breather from a music world that is often overcrowded by men.

The evening began with Seattle’s solo siren, Led to Sea. L. Alex Guy loops her classical tinged violin melodies into rich, full, arrangements. Her performance included both instrumentals and songs about bike disasters and archaic maritime love stories. Alex later joined the headliners, adding violin and synths.

Portland’s Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside (though they copped to the fact that only one of the four is actually from Portland), match neo-rock n’ roll with the truly distinct voice of the titular Sallie Ford. Think a bubblegum popping Nina Simone. The upright bass and junk-yard drum-kit provide a fine skip to their step. Keep an eye out for their song “Danger” — it has all the makings of an indie summer hit (or maybe the soundtrack to this year’s most fun Apple commercial, who knows).

The convergence of two of the indie world’s leading ladies, Thao Nguyen and Mirah Tov Zeitlyn, was a sight to behold. A pairing like this has the potential to either be like De Niro and Pacino in Heat or De Niro and Pacino in Righteous Kill, and it definitely wasn’t the latter. The two played all eleven tracks from their shiny new album, Thao & Mirah, and a small handful of their respective classics.

Halfway through the show, Thao informed the rapt audience that they had partnered with the nonprofit Air Traffic Control, which helps musicians connect with organizations throughout the country. For each stop of the tour, they have paired with a different organization to provide information about how fans can lend a hand. In addition to that, $1 from each ticket goes to that night’s partner. At the New Parish, they invited Generation Five, whose goal is to eradicate sexual abuse of children within five generations. For information or to donate, click here.

Thao & Mirah’s act was highly percussive, which was the foundation of the night’s many highlights. Throughout the performance, various members of the band joined the already crack drummer to bang away on the aforementioned junk-yard kit. One of the most astonishing moments came when the kit was pulled back and Mirah joined the drummer for a wicked game of paddy-cake during the Thao-centric “Teeth.” The only thing missing was the double-dutch.

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