Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
The name She & Him is misleading. This showcase is more like She & Her & Herself & Some Other Guy. They should change their name to Zooey Deschanel & the M. Wardens.
This was my biggest complaint listening to their albums. M. Ward sings a verse on one song, sings background on a couple others, but is otherwise left with strictly guitar duties. I wasn't expecting it to be different live, but I did expect more and extended guitar solos, which didn't happen. When he did sing his featured verse, several ladies in the crowd started howling and whistling, proving the crowd wasn't only comprised of old folks and perverted middle aged men. There were still plenty of the latter. The guy in front of me even had binoculars and was taking pictures! Creepy, right? Okay, that may have been me.
Zooey's voice started out a bit soft on the first two songs, like she wasn't singing directly into the mic, leaving me wondering if she even has a good voice? She does. It may have been technical difficulties, or maybe she started singing louder and closer to the mic. While I expected her to sing, and maybe pound away at a wood block or a tambourine, I wasn't expecting her to play the keyboards or ukulele. Her first venture to the keys included a few elementary notes, which had me thinking it was the extent of her skills. She proved me wrong, as she played the keyboard on several more songs. I can't say she played anything remarkable, but it shows she takes her music serious. Much respect.
"She" engaged the crowd several times between songs, including a story about her grandparents who live in Lake Oswego. She spoke about loving the music scene in Portland. I think she said something about her cat, or hair dresser. She probably thanked the crowd a couple times and cracked a joke or two? Okay, I didn't comprehend a word she said. It was all in slow motion, and my neighbor kept blaring REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" in my ear. (Edit: I'm now being told no one was playing REO Speedwagon? Uhhh, really? Shit.)
One highlight of the night was the VH1 popular, "In The Sun," which Zooey led the crowd chanting the echo to her chorus. The other was when M. Ward played one of his originals, "Magic Trick." Each time he started whaling on the guitar was a highlight, albeit overshadowed by Zooey jumping up and down and dancing around. It was the, "look at me, I'm a happy cheerleader," dance moves that Karen O and Perry Farrell have mastered. It's so damn cute, and so distracting.
After the show, I walked outside the venue to dry sidewalks. About a half block away, I felt the first rain drop. Two blocks later, the rain was intense. I was soaking wet, and nowhere near dressed for the elements. Having been mostly warm and dry for several weeks leading up to this show, it has been heavy rain and wind since. I can end this review by saying the summer season filled with beautiful sights and vibrant energy culminated with the beautiful sights and vibrant energy of She & Him, leading us to the inevitable transition of seasons. I could say that when Zooey thanked the crowd before disappearing behind the stage curtains, it was parallel to the summer sunshine thanking those who enjoy it before exiting behind the cover of dark clouds.
I can't end with that sappy connection though. The change in weather sucks, I want the sun back, and I'm blaming Zooey.