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Sunday, July 14, 2013

In Which Belle and Sebastian Shatter Their "Sad Bastard" Musical Image

Okay, so I'm a huge fan of songwriters who mask sad/dark lyrics within upbeat, catchy melodies. I love that moment after numerous listens, when it finally hits me what it is I'm ACTUALLY singing while dancing around like a damn fool. Lord Huron, The Smiths and of course, my beloved Rhett Miller are experts at this style. Belle and Sebastian, not so much.

There are a fair number of B & S songs which I favor greatly, but on the whole, their albums lean more to the "Sad Bastard Music" referenced by Jack Black's character in High Fidelity. Slow, morose downers rather than energetic mood lifters. Well I'm here to tell you, seeing B & S live busts that somber image in a splintered heap! They were waaaaay more fun than I ever expected.

After tolerating opener, Yo La Tengo's meh, monotone, drone (enough with the jamming already), a proverbial clown car of musicians filed onto the outdoor stage at Stage AE on the North Shore. Thirteen to be exact, lead by creator Stuart Murdoch and guitarist, Stevie Jackson who I swear to God were actually Phil Keoghan and Fred Armisen putting on an elaborate SNL skit. Jackson even moved and gestured like Armisen. Cracked me up. I was doomed to chuckle about his picture in my head all night.

Side note: besides the normal bass, drums and guitars, there were two keyboards, three violins, a cello, two horns, and a harmonica... then one of the women pulled out a flute, a recorder and a mouth harp from their bottomless crate of instruments. WTH? No pan flute?!?!

Donned in his Brit-Pop-finest, tailored, wide-striped jacket and tie, the slight Stuart, dancing awkwardly, yet endearingly from stage right to left, set the lighthearted tone for the evening. He had no trouble encouraging the nearly packed venue to come along for the ride. The vibe was bouncy from the word go. EVERYONE was singing and dancing, including an adorable eight-year-old bespectacled girl who spent the entire concert bopping atop her similarly bespectacled father's shoulders. Clearly they are raising her right.

Between songs, the charming Murdoch joked about the BAYER sign on Mt. Washington telling him to "wear safety glasses" or "rid your home of pests", prompting the masses, okay just me, to keep checking the signage for other nonsequitors. At several points, he jumped into the photo pit between the stage and fans, strutting back and forth, singing to a few lasses, before breaching the barrier and navigating the crowd singing "Listen lady put your phone down" while being flanked by a sea of recording iPhones.

The delicious irony was not lost on our little group. Can't speak for long-haired, thick-bearded, well-fed Jesus and his equally hairy disciples, Peter and Paul or Crab Man from My Name Is Earl. But I'm pretty sure Crab Man got it, even through the ganga haze, which again...was not shared. Hello?? Where are these youngsters' manners?

But I digress...

Keenly aware of the baseball game playing out next door, Murdoch lead the audience in a rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame for which we almost forgave him his Mets loyalty. Almost. Conversely, I cannot forgive this YouTuber's insistence on holding his/her phone vertically. IT'S CALLED LANSCAPE, PEOPLE!!! Look into it.

(P.S.: the Buccos beat the Mets 4-2. RAISE IT!!)

this is only funny to pittsburghers
cracks my ass up!

Further shattering their maudlin reputation, fans were invited on stage for a DANCE PARTY!! Believe it or not, I shot no video of the show beyond a 6 second Vine that I can't figure out how to post with sound. (Technology, I am your beyatch) I know, right? What the hell's wrong with me? Honestly, I didn't expect to want to write about the evening since I pretty much suck am woefully lacking creatively anymore. All I have is this shitty iPhone photo of the crammed dance party stage.

(Because I'm a Techno-tard, here's a video of the song being performed above. ACK! I need a 12 year old child to do this shit for me.)

They came back out for one encore song, and then they were done, but no matter. They played nearly two hours for an appreciative cross section of young, middle-aged, tattooed, pierced, hipsters, girlie-girls, and nerds. Oh, and let's not forget chubby Jesus and Crab Man. As my friend, Lizzie said, "for Sad Bastard music, I haven't had this much fun in months."

Spending a beautiful, albeit hot as monkey balls, summer night in the company of the lovely K-Schnikes couple and Lizzie is always a joy, but DUDE! that was an unexpected good time! Bobby K is right, whether you like their recorded music or not, you'll love them live.

Now excuse me while I take yet another blazing hot shower to sandblast the sweaty throngs of humanity from my person.

Setlist according to Setlistfm with links to videos

Judy is a Dick Slap
I'm a Cuckoo
The State I Am In
I Want the World to Stop
To Be Myself Completely
Lord Anthony
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Piazza, New York Catcher
I Can See Your Future
Your Cover's Blown
I Don't Love Anyone
The Boy with the Arab Strap
Legal Man
1812 Overture (excerpt)
Judy and the Dream of Horses
Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying

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