Friday, March 07, 2008

sentimental heart

Two Noise Pop shows in one day? No problem! I've done it before, and odds are I'll do it again (as long as my concert legs don't give out).

She & Him, Great American Music Hall, March 2, 2008She & Him, Great American Music Hall, March 2, 2008: The Tilly and the Wall show ended just in time for us to walk up Van Ness to the Great American Music Hall and squeeze into the debut She & Him show without having to watch even more questionable opening acts. We did sacrifice proximity to the stage, but hey, they're no awesome British dudes.

I never tire of talking about Largo in general, but some episodes, more than others, are worth repeating and harping on and lording over my less fortunate peers. One such show is Jon Brion's end-of-year gig in 2006 featuring, among others, Zooey Deschanel. I don't think I had much of an opinion of her one way or the other before the gig, but I was entirely smitten by last call. Zooey held her ground with the best of them crowded onto that tiny stage, even at their most chaotic. She passed the audition.

On the strength of that show alone, I was pretty much prepared to love her musical project She & Him, realized with the help of M. Ward, who's not really my cup of tea, but I can fully appreciate the significance of his contributions.

When she emerged onstage, Zooey didn't exactly look like your average Noise Pop indie recording artist; rather, in her floor-length black halter dress, her slightly up 'do, and well, her gorgeous looks, she wasn't slumming it. On the other hand, she complemented the Great American Music Hall's ornate decor beautifully. And as the band played on, it soon became apparent that she was the star attraction.

Just to recap, at Largo, she performed a number of Mary Ford/Les Paul classics, but She & Him covered a wider range of styles, from the more countrified numbers to unvarnished singer-songwriter fare to a little bit of girl group action. Through it all, there was something about Zooey's voice and delivery that burnished the songs with just a patina of antiquity, placing it just outside the banalities of the contemporary scene. I don't know the titles, but my favorite song of the night spotlighted just Zooey's voice, boosted with a dollop of reverb and accompanied by M. Ward's emotive, minimal notes. It almost made you forget what passes for country music these days.

The gig capped off another great Noise Pop year, one in which I wanted to see more shows than I managed to attend. Here's hoping for more musical goodness in 2009!

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