At last night’s (Oct. 3) intimate Feist show in the crypt of a Harlem church, the indie chanteuse did not even go near the song that made her famous. The night was not about “1234” or the fame it cascaded unto Leslie Feist four years ago, but rather, the Canadian singer’s first album since that era.
On the eve of the release of “Metals,” Feist’s highly anticipated fourth album, roughly 150 people gathered in the regally eerie basement of the Church of the Intercession on W. 155th St. in Manhattan. This small number included a band of at least 20, highlighting female back-up singers from Mountain Man and a robust orchestra of strings, woodwinds and brass alike, otherwise known as the Mason Jar Music creative collective (who also filmed the event).
While some might have expected Feist to perform “Metals” from front to back, she peppered in old favorites like “Mushaboom” and “Sea Lion Woman,” reworking them to fit in line with the gorgeously brooding sounds of her latest release. “When I Was a Young Girl,” off “Let It Die,” received a stunning original orchestral arrangement, topped off with intense tribal drumming.
Video: Feist, “So Sorry” Live, 10/3/11
Yet the show’s highlight was a new song: “Graveyard.” The respectful crowd, which included members of Grizzly Bear, roared with cheers at the exact moment “Graveyard” crescendoed, causing the loudest noise presumably ever produced in the church’s crypt. Plus, it’s really something when an artist can inspire two separate singalongs of an unreleased track — the reprise of which was completely unprompted by Feist during her encore.
It goes (almost) without saying that the acoustics of the venue brought out the best in Feist, who stumbled a bit with stage banter but seemed to find her footing on the topic “creepy Internet culture.” (Specifically, the fact that tweets had been enough to get the word out about tickets for the show being available at Sound Fix Records in Brooklyn, by pre-ordering “Metals.”)
One small bit of talk that seemed more telling than humorous were the words with which Feist ended her 90-minute set: “I’ve ended every show for probably eight years with this song,” she said, introducing “Let It Die.” “This is the beginning of a new era, but let’s it just stick to old plan.” With that, Feist started the song, vocally misfiring on first attempt — and somehow, adding to the already overwhelming vulnerability of “Let It Die.”