Live: Feist at Town Hall, 06.11.07


photo by this person

Town Hall
June 11

By Rob Harvilla

So Feist sang a song about semen that made the woman next to me cry. I’ll wager this is a first. (Yes, even in Times Square.) We’d gotten halfway through her Town Hall coronation, a schizophrenic affair by turns mesmerizing and frustrating, dainty and lumbering, elegant and awkward. It improved dramatically the quieter it got; the fewer pancake-handed sidemen were around to louse it up, the better. So finally all four temporarily cede the stage to a special guest: Kevin Drew, Ms. Feist’s bandmate in Broken Social Scene. (Her boyfriend, too, if you believe the Times.) Kevin sits down at the piano (upright, churchly) and begins tentatively tapping out “Lover’s Spit,” the Broken Social Scene song about semen. Look it up.

All these people drinking lover’s spit
Swallowing words while giving head

It’s actually kind of sweet, in a gross sort of way, a prayer baptized in the unholiest of waters. Occasionally ruffling Kevin’s hair, Feist sang it as a torch ballad, a languid anthem for a sleepy-eyed generation.

It’s time

That we

Grow old and do some shit

And the woman next to me sniffles. Repeatedly. Let’s see Jenny Lewis do that.

It’s not that these sidemen guys were bad. It just that backing such a volatile, delicate, voracious fireball—an elastic, trembling voice capable of sharpening instantly to a diamond-cutting wail of anger or joy or frustration—they seemed like walruses trying to do yoga, all flippers, onk onk onk. Plodding drums stomping ostentatiously through the light, jazzy swing of “I’m Sorry.” The sublimely airy “Mushaboom” all overly raucous and Velvet Revolvered up. Picture Feist slow-dancing with Eddy Curry, getting her toes clomped on periodically as he goes for another solo on one of those keyboards you blow into.

Her banter was delightfully loony, particularly when she chirped like a bird for five minutes or so, pulling some dude from the audience onstage for some bird-chirp harmony. And though pancake-handedness couldn’t completely sink her best uptempo walking-on-sunshine moments—“I Feel It All” and “1 2 3 4” especially, the latter’s video, to quote George Clooney, still somehow making me bite into a pepper every time—the moments of triumph here were slow and sparse, all open air and pregnant pauses. The carefully conducted “1 2 3 4” sing-a-long and her soul-clapinfested hijacking of Nina Simone’s “See Line Woman” got the biggest cheers, but Feist is most mesmerizing during The Reminder’s back-to-back double-whammy waltz assault—“The Park” and “The Water” both killed, softly. A little death, and a joy to swallow.

Feist, “1 2 3 4” [MP3]

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