April 3, 2010
She & Him, The Chapin Sisters @ Bowery Ballroom | 3.30.10
JezebelMusic.com @ Bowery Ballroom
March 6, 2010 | She & Him, The Chapin Sisters
It was a rainy and totally miserable Tuesday. So unexpectedly rainy, in fact, Zooey Deschanel of She & Him, had to buy rain boots earlier in the day. Such was her quiet, rambling between song banter at She & Him’s second sold out performance at The Bowery Ballroom. Thankfully, She & Him, with The Chapin Sisters, said rain be damned and offered up a pretty sweet and sunny show.
Opening for She & Him were The Chapin Sisters, Abigail and Lily (sans sister Jessica Craven who is on a maternity leave). Ethereally costumed in flowing white, the Brooklyn born sisters, who now reside in L.A., exuded legit Monterey hippie chic. I felt like I could have been at any assortment of gatherings in the mid to late 60s, waiting for Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to jump on stage. That being said, The Chapin Sisters are neither campy nor outdated. Their lyrics are intelligent and I was into their acoustic vibe, not to mention long blonde hair. Their gorgeous harmonies took over the ballroom, making me wonder if they actually needed the backing band briefly joined them onstage. Granted the band does flesh out some of their more folky tunes, and made for some more up tempo moments, but the Sisters truly shine on their own. Premiering a lot of new material, at one point Lily traded in her guitar for a banjo because, as Abigail commented, “Who doesn’t love a banjo?” Word, sister.
Going into the main event – I’m not going to lie – I wanted She & Him to be resplendent. And they were – eventually. Opening with Volume One track “I Was Made for You,” Zooey Deschanel’s dulcet pipes were dead-on, but she looked concentrated and faraway. For almost the first half of the set she seemed to stare, wide-eyed, at a fixed point toward the back of the room, really, really, thinking about what she was singing. M. Ward stayed toward the fringes of the stage remaining quiet, only a few times joining in on the banter, once dryly remarking, “This might look like playing, but we’re working.” The crowd, by the way, was in love with him, catcalling and hollering every time he took the lead. And, rightfully so.
Playing a solid mix of Volume One and Volume Two cuts, the duo seemed to finally relax midway through their set, and from there, they were unstoppable. Their backing band was energetic and looked like they were just enjoying being along for the ride. A pleasant addition was the return of The Chapin Sisters, who this time, donning more mod 60s frocks, returned to the stage as backup vocalists. When it was clear “Sweet Darlin’” was in fact the closer, I was disappointed to only have a few more encore songs left, as I was just appreciating their playfulness. At their best, She & Him were rollicking, a true tribute to a golden era of rock and roll; at their not-so-best, a bit shy. Watching Deschanel jump around on stage with a gleeful look, like a little kid who just found out she got a pony, was divine. Listening to M. Ward deliver some deliciously raspy, and simultaneously velvety, lyrics to the first encore cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”, was an inspiration. Ending the night, She & Him took to the stage alone. Deschanel proceeded to belt out a slow and slinky rendition of “I Put a Spell on You” that reminded me why I love seeing live music.
by Erin Gallagher