So, I was planning to have a quiet Thursday night, after the previous night's action and the weekend coming up. But my friend Laura (who will hopefully be contributing some posts here, soon) reminded me that Belle & Sebastian were playing at the Williamsburg Waterfront. The main deterrence was the impending weather, and the sky wasn't looking very friendly before the show, but I figured it would probably be years before they played here again, and it was a treat to be at the Waterfront after the summer.
I'm really glad I went.
Openers Teenage Fanclub were actually middle-aged men, having been away from the States for five years. They had solid, three-part harmonies, and rocked pretty hard - the Times notes that Spin chose Bandwagonesque as album of the year in 1991, over some album called Nevermind, and there were some grungey influences.
Although I only recognize a handful of Belle & Sebastian songs - I think "Piazza, New York Catcher" is my favorite, and then I realized that I only knew it from the Juno soundtrack, oops - the set was strength after strength. Stuart Murdoch's delicate voice is the hallmark of the band, and a few sparse songs supplemented it with simple acoustic guitar. But for the most park, the ensemble style of the band was energizing, with woodwinds, brass instruments, and even a laptop in the mix.
The band did a good job of being cute without going overboard - Murdoch's banter was entertaining, discussing everything from sitcoms to politics, and the band got the massive crowd to clap, whistle and "ooh" throughout the set. Further antics included tossing autographed footballs into the crowd, crowdsurfing (or at least standing), and getting around eight lucky fans onstage to clap and dance.
The energy was really the key - from some of their softer songs on record, I never would have thought anyone could dance to Belle &; Sebastian, but as Murdoch described a b-side, "groovy" was an appropriate word for the set. Overall a great, satisfying set, just of two hours. I'll undoubtedly be digging into their discography.
Here's a big video feature on the band's new album, Write About Love.
Photos from the show below, and some more at Metromix, and shortly BrooklynVegan.
The Wedding Present
Belle & Sebastian