Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Feist
If you've read anything on Leslie Feist, you know that she's pretty much unanimously considered to be the nicest of human beings. So how is it that she can pack so much heartfelt blues into her songs? You wouldn't think that such constant outward happiness would yield a song like "Bad in Each Other," the Canadian indie-folk star's headlining-set opener tonight. Where's she hiding the melancholy that helped her pen, "a good man and a good woman will bring out the worst in each other?"
She certainly wasn't revealing any of her secrets as she bounced and stomped on stage, quickly laying out cute little ploys to get the crowd riled up. That's the thing about Feist's folksy vibe, it's not exactly the stuff of speaker stacks, ear-splitting distortion or festival mosh pits. Granted, Pitchfork isn't either, but past headliners like Animal Collective and TV on the Radio each brought immense energy in its own way. Feist's is a much more mellow affair. She and her band clearly came prepared, gussying up album cuts and rocking harder than you'd believe possible, given many of the songs on 2011's Metals. With neon pink peaks emblazoned on her guitar, Feist set out to prove her mountain rock is anything but adult contemporary.
Driving the point home, she enlisted female folk trio Mountain Man to help flesh out her hippie doo-wop on "Mushaboom" and keep delicate time on "Circle Married the Line," which she transformed into an impromptu edict to all the photogs to make her look good in tomorrow's paper. On livelier songs like "I Feel It All," the trio helped rally the energy of the crowd, dancing, clapping and shaking tambourines.
The band was on a mission to engage the sizable audience before them. There was the banging rendition of Reminder's "My Moon My Man" and the rockabilly guitar showwomanship on "Sealion." Elsewhere it was stepping out onto the forefront of the stage to lead the crowd in an a cappella ending of "Comfort Me."
But Feist's intimate moments are inescapable—and a large part of her charm. That sadness revealed itself again on a somber rendition of "So Sorry," and the ever-so-slightly more uplifting "Graveyard." There was even an effects-laden and tripped-out rerub of "Limit To Your Love," evidence that James Blake's cover has made an impact on her. It was during these moments that her performance suffered due to the environment. By no fault of hers, the quieter the band got, the louder the crowd's chatter became.
Thankfully they didn't let it phase them. Feist remained as good natured, playful and dedicated as her reputation suggests, flexing her skill as frontwoman, and doing it all without even having to count.