Feist performs in New York, October 3, 2011 (Photo: Jillian Mapes)
The campaign surrounding "Metals," the first album in more than four years from Canadian songstress Feist, has been a calculated one -- an unusual combination of small (mysterious viral videos) and big (stream the entire album at ListenToFeist.com) that reflects both the singer's indie origins and caution at following the breakthrough success of her last album, "The Reminder." Years of silence were followed by the viral videos and the announcement that she was working on a new album - and shortly after came the news that not only was the album done, it was coming out in just a few weeks.
And perfectly in line with the vibe of that campaign was the announcement this past Monday -- the day before the new album's release -- via Feist's official Twitter account that she would be premiering "Metals" alongside an orchestra in the tiny crypt of the Church of the Intercession in Harlem -- in nine hours. Yes, fans could get tickets -- but only by pre-ordering "Metals" on CD or vinyl, exclusively through Sound Fix Records, an indie retailer in Brooklyn's hipster haven of Williamsburg. Sound Fix remained active on its own Twitter account throughout the day, detailing every couple hours just how many of the approximately 90 tickets were left.
"It was important to us for fans to be able to get the music and feel like they were a part of this very special experience," Interscope Records marketing director Julie Hovsepian told Billboard.biz, adding that "only about five or so" people from Interscope attended, so that a fair number of "fans, press and some local radio would be able to really enjoy it."
A small coterie of press -- and an even smaller number of photographers -- squeezed their way into the venue, in addition to Friends of Feist such as Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste and the Strokes' Fabrizio Moretti. To call the setting "intimate" is a drastic understatement: The singer and her 25-piece orchestra/band, which performed on a crypt/stage, took took up approximately a fifth of the venue's population. Feist's longtime manager Robbie Lackritz attributes the offbeat venue and the idea for the show to Mason Jar Music, the creative collective comprised of the performance's orchestra and the production company that filmed the show.
"Mason Jar had gotten in touch with me like a year and half or two years ago about doing something, but it didn't make sense for us at the time," Lackritz told Billboard.biz. "It so happened in the process of making 'Metals,' Leslie [Feist] made a record that had a lot of heavy arrangements on it. They popped back into my mind. The idea of inhabiting a space where people haven't played a show really stuck with [Feist], and they were really positive and up to the task."
The initial venue idea was the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or similar outdoor venue, but when Mason Jar Music found the crypt at the Church of the Intercession, it felt right to Lackritz, given the haunting feeling inhabiting "Metals."
"I was really proud of Leslie and the band, and I was just really thrilled with the amount of work that everyone put in altogether," he added. "They had to rehearse on the spot on the day of and everyone had to work together. I feel like it came across as something special when I was in there. It felt like a palpable, eerie, special moment."