Along with Emily Haines (Metric) Leslie Feist is probably best known for sharing female vocal duties with Canadian collective Broken Social Scene. She goes simply as Feist when on her own and on her own is where you will find Feist at the moment. Unlike the lyrical themes of Feist’s songs – never settled, thus never having time to love – the troubadour lifestyle she is known for has gained her a rapt following. Holding fort atop one of 2007′s most critically praised albums, The Reminder has captured the imagination of many with an irresistible combination of sparse indie-pop framed by her raspy and seductive vocals. Words like adorable, pretty, clever, intelligent, sweet and endearing form just part of the wonky dissections of praise heaved onto Feist. If you think this build up is a cunning set up before I introduce the dreaded ‘o’ word (hint:rhymes with “rover ate it”) then friends, I’m afraid to say it is not. Chalk up the Merry Swankster as another convert adding to the growing write ups focused on Feist’s magical ability to do no wrong and just about everything right.
Friday night Feist headlined a sold out Boulder theater packed with an adoring crowd. Grizzly Bear were scheduled to open but had to cancel at the last minute after suffering from vehicular dysfunction after the previous show in Minneapolis. Because of an early tip to M.S. HQ regarding this unlucky situation we were able to substitute a tasty dinner of tapas and cocktails in place of the warm up act. Of course this also meant I have nothing to report on the provisional act doing the filling in at the Boulder theater. Word on the street was that Feist’s band performed a set. No idea, but I can recommend several excellent small plate selections, hot and cold, from a restaurant that will remain nameless until that Merry Swankster branded food blog ever takes off. Still though, it came as unfortunate news to the Merry Swankster crew. That being said, and with no disrespect towards Grizzly Bear, by the end of the night we were so enamored by Feist’s incredible show that our denial of a Grizzly fix was but an afterthought. Sorry fellas! Trust that we yelled loudly for you on that voicemail (more on this later).
Listening to The Reminder on record and one cannot be faulted for thinking a live Feist show might fall flat. Potential is always there for washy mixes hiding the nuances of her fluttery voice or loud crowds spoiling the optimal listening environment. On a less critical note there is also the expectation that you’ll experience, for lack of a better term, a boring show. Such are the reasons live shows are the wondrous events they are. Perceived misconceptions shattered in the pure escapade of the artist to listener experience. The pace of songs and showmanship by Feist and her band struck all criterion points like a mystic dart repeatedly nailing bulls-eyes all night long. During a particularly beautiful sans-band solo performance, Feist was onstage all by her lonesome sounding like she channeled the living ghosts of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – I think it was on the “The Park.” Exuding a unique hushed atmospheric feel on these quieter tunes that at first appear meager until riches of heartbreaking feeling and stunning tone get discovered.
[Continued with pictures, MP3, and video after the jump]
Crowd pleasing lines like “I want to win the war” on “I Feel it All” provided the big cheers. Forget the fact that the song is completely non-political — rather a stand against losing control of the strings that keep her heart together — the fact emphasis was added on that specific line at all gives credence to theories of her purposefully injecting poignancy as it relate to other events in the world. Or maybe those words were just enunciated better than the others. Either way she clearly had fun with it while the party atmosphere in Boulder was heating up.
There was more evidence of the fun, party side of Feist. None more obvious then when she invited a young woman from the crowd to sing along on a song. Looking like a Joss Stone look-alike from my angle, the girl danced onstage alongside Feist and instantly neutralized the expected disaster of this surprise karaoke invite with every note she effortlessly sang along too. Embarrassment for her never materialized as everyone in the Boulder Theater, including Feist and band, was taken aback by the rich voice of this unknown talent plucked from the crowd. Later we learned her name was Jessica as Feist thanked her by requesting suitors from the crowd. Jessica wherever you are – great job. Let us know if a love connection was made. No doubt an unforgettable moment for Jessica and an incredibly warm one for the rest of us witnessing a little piece of live magic.
[Jessica & Feist]
Ending the set with the addictive first single from The Reminder, “1234″ segued to a raucous chorus of cheers from the frenzied crowd. Positively peaking in passion for their hero they stomped the foundations of the theater, or at least it felt as such, until the spirited request for an encore was honored. Back onstage Feist reprised the disappointment of Grizzly Bear’s absence by calling Ed Droste’s cell phone. While leaving a message noting what how much Colorado missed them she ended with “see you in Seattle” as the escalating crowd noise completely took over. See vid:
Feist calls Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste
Not limited by mobile gadgets as props, the night continued with tap-dancing accompaniment for The Reminder stand out: “Sea Lion Woman.” The tribal rhythm punctuated by hand claps and spiced vocals was just terrific. Touches of guitar shredding by Feist for good measure and finished off with soul sister accents. “See that woman” indeed.
Feist – “Sea Lion Woman”
Remaining Tour Dates
06-25 Portland, OR – The Crystal Ballroom*
06-26 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore*
06-27 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore*
06-29 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern*
07-17 Portsmouth, England – Wedgewood Rooms
07-19 Manchester, England – Academy 3
07-22 Birmingham, England – Glee Club
07-24 London, England – Scala
07-28 Mt. Fuji, Japan – Fuji Rock Festival