“Did you know you’re on the way between Chicago and Atlanta?” Leslie Feist (aka Feist) asked the hundreds-strong, predictably at-capacity crowd assembled at a day’s notice in Third Man Records’ Blue Room Saturday night. Thus explaining why the Canadian songstress and her crew “pulled over the caravan to play for [us],” though not explaining why a proper Nashville show (a return to The Ryman, perhaps?) was not included in her current cross-country theater trek. Strolling up to the venue shortly before show time, we noticed that said caravan included a couple buses and a semi or two — quiet a fleet for such a cozy one-off, eh?
As much of a pleasant surprise as this show came, The Spin’s night was made when we arrived in the Blue Room — Jack White’s indubitable Downtown parlor of rock, one side of which is now a freshly-painted candy-cane red — to find that, on this night, patrons of drinking age were treated to free, bottomless cups of keg beer. Killer!
Also killer (or more to the point, killed) was the newly-mounted, enormous elephant head that augmented Third Man’s ever-burgeoning collection of on-display taxidermy. We soon realized that the evening’s free-flowing cold coffee had only impaired our judgment so much when we decided against challenging ourselves to leap up towards the time-frozen mammal in order to attempt a round of chin-ups upon learning that tusks were in fact replicas. Maybe next time.
Throughout Saturday night’s near-90-minute performance, we couldn’t help but continually wonder when exactly the auditory aesthetics of post-Y2K indie rock went from New Wave-obsessed to New Age-obsessed. The seven-piece band — consisting of frontwoman Feist, a drummer, a keyboardists/organist, a multi-instrumentalist and a trio of female background singers doubling as percussionists — looked every bit the part of the past decade’s stage-crowding crop of fresh-out-of-art-school Canucks, embracing life with sometimes pensive, sometimes anthemic youthful vigor.
But the booming, clacking, safari-ready, world-infused choppy rhythms, finespun vocal melodies and chant-errific, staccato harmonies we heard congealing off the shadowy, blue-bathed stage seemed to owe more sonic props to Enya and Enigma than New Order and Joy Division — a far cry from mingling among the Broken Social Scene. For real, Feist’s recent full-length Metals — selections from which made for most of the set, and which we can best describe as sounding like a subdued, balladic take on Kate Bush battling spotted leopards and buffalo with a hockey stick — is something our progressive parents would love like it was herbal hand soap from Bed, Bath and Beyond.
In other words, this show was a cleansing experience for The Spin. We stacked our Fabri-Kal cups and stood among the crowd of on-every-note-hanging super fans and plauditorily-head-nodding, local, social scenesters — none of whom seemed particularly bothered by the curious omission of the song from the iPod commercial. Or maybe there was just an elephant in the room. (Har.)
On the local/international tip, midway through the show Feist brought out now-Nashville-by-way-of-England electro-soul crooner Jamie Lidell and members of his backing band — including none other than local luminary Matt "Mr. Jimmy" Rowland — to bash out a rollicking, by-pant-seat rendition of his 2004 hit “Multiply.” The crowed seemed somewhat bewildered, but pleased nonetheless.