After an hour-and-a-half's worth of traffic getting out of Davidson County on Friday, I rushed to Which Stage to find Feist — in her straw hat, large-framed circle sunglasses and flowy, matronly skirt — in the picturesque light of dusk. Hiding behind her clothing, the delicate singer seemed to be the folk community's less sexy and long-awaited answer to Joni Mitchell with her pitch-perfect, effortless vocal acrobatics, moving from picking a distorted steel-string acoustic guitar to rocking a Les Paul Jr.
The crowd woo'd for Feist after "Bad for Each Other." During "Sea Lion Woman," she took the mic with a space echo vocal delay, looping her froggy and beautiful vocals into rich textures without compromising clarity. Stripped back from the lineup I caught at Coachella this year, Feist was sans strings and horns. Her band featured a key player who contributed synth bass, electric bass, upright piano and synth strings, plus another multi-instrumentalist — who looked like local Richie Kirkpatrick (Ghostfinger, Richie, Jessica Lea Mayfield) aged 20 years — and a drummer.
Feist's clustered vocal arrangements were delivered smoothly and dynamically by vocal trio Mountain Man. I tried to avoid looking at the singers — in their peasant dresses and distracting "look at me" stage antics — as best I could. Some serious cheese on that ham sandwich. Feist's presence, however, is authentic and wholesome, and likely appeals most to fans seeking unapologetic feminine inoffensiveness. Dampened by the lack of rebelliousness in her live performance, I understood why none of the the Creamsters wanted to catch and write about Feist yet again. Regardless, Feist's melodies are anthemic, original and uplifting. She seemed the ideal woman, pure and charismatic, the everydaughter of every middle-aged folkie. Feist seemed a good girl, with songs that incite hope and longing.