Sunday, March 12, 2006

Belle and Sebastian

After hearing Giddy talk about how amazing it was to see Belle and Sebastian play at Coachella two years ago, I always sort of secretly suspected that her experience was way more about the situation than the performance. I mean, how much fun could it be to see Belle and Sebastian--a band that, no matter how much they grow musically and stylistically, will likely forever be defined as sad bastard music--play live anyway? Well, I'm happy to report that once again I was merely being a snarky, doubting bitch--a Belle and Sebastian show really is that much fun.

Was able to wrangle myself a ticket for the concert at the Riv on Friday night (thanks, Patrick), and it was bloody fantastic. Stuart Murdoch is sooo cute, all little and spazzed out and tentative about playing rock star. His attempt at crowd surfing was nothing short of pathetic ("erm, OK, put me back now") and when he got up to dance on the stack of speakers, he really just looked more like a kid dancing on the kitchen counter than a proper rock 'n' roll front man. And, as is the case with so much of what touches me most these days, it was precisely because he was willing to look foolish while clearly, genuinely having fun that something really beautiful and honest was able to be born on stage. There was such liveliness and joy in everything they did that ran totally opposite to the kind of dour, Glaswegian self-seriousness I would have expected. For Christ's sake, when they kicked in to "Another Sunny Day," the back projection turned into a bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds and all the lights on stage glowed golden yellow; I just started laughing out loud. I couldn't help it. It was too perfect.

The fact that I recognized a lot of the songs in the set list means they went heavy on the tunes from The Life Pursuit (in addition to a few from If You're Feeling Sinister and, of course, the massively awesome "Your Cover's Blown"), which, not exactly being well versed in the whole of their output, obviously didn't bother me in the least. With their energy and tighter pop songcraft, these songs lend themselves extraordinarily well to live performance. I was even tempted to throw up the horns during the sweet little guitar solo in "We Are the Sleepyheads." But, perhaps the greatest thing to come out of the show is the fact that the first thing I did on Saturday morning (after eating a banana and gulping some water--sooo hungover) was turn on The Life Pursuit. I feel like I'm finally ready to give this band my full attention, rather than keeping them compartmentalized as being good but too twee and precious for me, or whatever excuses I used to give to keep them at arm's length.

What about the New Pornographers? Because of the uncertainties of actually getting a ticket, I missed pretty much the entirety of their set. Uh, what I heard of "Sing Me Spanish Techno" sounded pretty great, though. Go Carl Newman!

LK and I watched Grizzly Man last night. Holy fuck, what a movie. It's a testament to the strength and conviction with which Herzog conveys his worldview that, even after a brilliant concert the night before and a gorgeous spring day spent shoe shopping and gabbing with my best pals, I felt overwhelmed by the meaninglessness, chaos, and isolation of human existence.


wunderkind said...


i caught them back in 02 & wasn't expecting the quality & energy of the live show they put on...the only one sans energy was isobel, who pouted throughout both shows & then promptly parted ways with the band a few dates later on the tour. i can imagine they're even better now.



Matthew Perpetua said...

Man, I've been a big B&S fan since 1996 and I seriously can't fathom why people would characterize them as "sad bastard music" when they've been regularly recording loads of perky up tempo numbers since day one.