From The Spin's Notebook: Feist w/Timber Timbre at The Ryman, 5/1/12



From time to time, certain circumstances (limited time, money or space, or the fact that we just saw the artist in question, for instance) preclude The Spin from writing a fully fleshed-out review of a given show. But that doesn't mean we can't share our notes with you, dear readers. So below, transcribed directly from our notepad, are The Spin's thoughts on last night's Feist show at The Ryman. You'll also see a handful of shots snapped by trusty photog-for-hire Lance Conzett.

* The crowd tonight appears to be mostly populated by well-dressed 20-somethings and bookish young ladies with Rapunzel-esque locks, all of whom seem to be aging gracefully from adolescent-librarian types into adult-librarian types.

* We'd say we're fans of Creep on Creepin' On, the latest LP from openers Timber Timbre, with its spooky, tortured turns and moody take on modern folk. Live, the material is even more sparse and slow-burning, with just fiddle, a bit of lap steel and a frontman on guitar, kick drum and vocals. Miss the BGVs and full drums, but TT is still mostly transfixing, in that Black Heart Procession sort of way.

* These Canucks are supremely Canadian in their patient and polite delivery. Which is nice. But it's getting samey after the first handful of songs: same ominous, unchanging red lighting; same ominous, thumping kick drum on each quarter note; same ominous, throaty howl on each song.

* For their last tune, Timber Timbre is bringing out vocal trio Mountain Man, who backed Feist at Third Man back in November, and will do the same tonight. This is pretty. And ominous.

* Our photog is telling us that Feist is restricting photo access, and he won't be able to shoot her from the floor. That sucks. He'll have to make do from the balcony. Aaaand ... a middle-aged Third Man Records superfan has now crept into the vacant seat next to us, and he wants to talk about Jack White and The Black Belles and Jack White and all the times he's seen Jack White and ... man, bless this guy's heart.

* Feist is leading with "Graveyard," and damn. Her voice truly is always on.

* And yes, there are the three mismatched-looking ladies of Mountain Man once more, gathered around a mic, with their disparate heights and stage presences. The little one on the left is bobbing and swaying, vying for Feist's spotlight with her energy. The tall one on the right seems to hardly ever move. And the one in the middle is ... well, in the middle. Still, some fine, crystalline harmonizing.

* A reworked version of "Mushaboom." This is ... different.

* The auxiliary guy, with his hat and mustache, looks something like a French-Canadian woodsman. And whoa, he can play a lot of stuff. Like, if these instruments were trees that needed to be felled, he'd be, like, fellin' like a felon up in here. (Note: That's terrible. Don't print that.)

* Feist is doing a pretty neat little crowd-interaction thing where she splits us into segments to sing a chord. She says when you sing onstage at The Ryman, "The Ryman sings back at you." Literally in this instance. Some of her banter is a bit silly and cute. But that's OK. Photog points out that it's certainly no worse than She & Him's banter.

* Feist's voice is so, so milky and creamy. It pours over you sleepily, a bit like being coated in Half & Half while someone rubs your tummy. Very somnolent ... and blanket-like ... and ... eyes are slowly closing ... and ... Oh God! The weird reverse effect on her second vocal mic! It's like a Lynchian waking nightmare all the sudden!

* Brief smoke break. Lady outside keeps calling the horn that mustachioed auxiliary guy was playing a "Cornish." No, lady. That's a chicken. The word you're trying to think of is "cornet."

* Photog points out that old tunes sound like a Feist tribute act covering songs from Let It Die and The Reminder. It's probably just because she assembled this band primarily to play Metals. But here's a conspiracy theory! Facts: (1) She doesn't seem to like being photographed from up close; (2) Her old songs don't necessarily sound like her old songs this evening. ... It's an impostor! Like the whole "Paul is dead" thing, Feist was replaced by a lookalike/soundalike! Photog says maybe she's hiding a third eye under those bangs, and that's why she isn't keen on being shot from too close. But really? She probably just finds it distracting. Sigh. Conspiracy theory dead.

* Feist gives Mountain Man the spotlight for a pair of madrigal-type tunes: a bucolic sort of siren song about bright morning stars, and another sillier, more hoedown-friendly one called "How'm I Doin'." Biggest round of applause yet for these numbers.

* Anyway, with a couple glasses of wine and these sleepy but wonderfully played arrangements, Feist is kind of lulling us into dream land. And hey, that's it, she's done. And, just like at the Third Man show, she never played her hit, "1234"! I mean, no big deal for us or anything. She's probably just sick of it.

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