One of my most anticipated shows at Noise Pop this weekend in San Francisco was the M. Ward collaboration with velvet-voiced actress Zooey Deschanel called She & Him. I could hardly overstate the level of love I have for M. Ward’s richly layered music, and Zooey has this fantastic retro-throwback vibe with a sweet coyness to her inflection. The samples I’ve heard from two of them have been promising.
And, let’s face it — much like the time I saw Russell Crowe’s band at the Fillmore (that’s Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts for those of you keeping track at home), everyone likes to go see a real live attractive movie star play with their band. It’s why folks spend $40 to see Dogstar.
After three opening acts at the Great American Music Hall Sunday night, Matt and Zooey took the stage for their hour-long set. I gotta hand it to Zooey, she is a charming and capable performer who reminded my friend of June Carter Cash a bit, I suppose in her vocal swing. I’d never seen M Ward before but he clearly enjoys those sounds he coaxes from his vintage guitars, and sings his vocal parts with the gusto and expressions of an 80-year-old bluesman. It’s fun to see them interact with each other, ending their main set on the piano bench playing the ivories side by side.
But somehow the visceral kick that I like to feel in a live show was missing last night. The overwhelming reaction I had when I walked out the doors was that it was nice, absolutely, and charming. It felt like a very engaging county fair act. They have a lot of potential as a duo, as their voices meld so well and offer each other a counterbalance. I’ve got the album at the very top of the stack of advances to take a listen to — I am anticipating that I’ll catch some layers of interest and depth in the studio album that I must have missed in the live setting.
The bloggers were out in force for this show, and as we all travel home, Aquarium Drunkard posted up a quick thought saying that the show was fantastico. The line around the block made this one of the hardest shows of the fest to get into, but I left feeling like I’d missed something in what was supposed to be the kind of glorious winner in the cool-kid olympics show of the year. It was fun. And nice.