Wednesday, August 06, 2008

She & Him w/ Becky Stark @ Park West, 8/5/08

This was one of the most fun shows I've been to in a long time. I've found She & Him's debut album, the work of M. Ward and indie actress Zooey Deschanel, to be pleasant enough, though by no means outstanding. Live, however, Zooey's voice proved to be much stronger than on record, and the songs just made me incredibly toe-tappingly happy. "Adorable" is probably the best term I can use to describe She & Him's performance, and I mean that in a good way, not in an annoying, cloying way.

Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond opened for She & Him in addition to later providing backing vocals for the band. I'm not especially familiar with Lavender Diamond's catalog and found her music sweet though ultimately unmemorable; still, I thought Becky was hilarious and enjoyed listening to her on stage, especially as Zooey, M. Ward and most of the She & Him band joined her at various times during her set. Speaking with other show-goers afterwards, some people thought she was ditzy and annoying, but I thought the ditz-act was intentional and sarcastic, and I decided I liked her. Let's hang sometime, Becky.

I've had a big girl-crush on Zooey Deschanel ever since seeing her in All the Real Girls, and it was clear when she came on stage that every other girl in the audience felt the same way- I think more girls were swooning than boys. Zooey is clearly still working on her stage banter (i.e. not enough of it- though occasional sarcastic comments slipped through that made me *heart* her even more), but it's clear from her presence that as an actress she is comfortable on stage. Some of her songs are a bit too slow for me, but she conveniently left most of those off the set list in favor of fun, 60s girl group-vibed songs like "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here", "This Is Not a Test" and "Sweet Darlin'", a song I haven't been able to get out of my head ever since. In addition to covers already on her album ("You Really Got a Hold on Me"), she also gave us a Joni Mitchell song and a cover of "I Put a Spell on You", an unexpected belter that proved she had more up her vocal sleeves than we thought.

M. Ward spent most of the show quietly playing his guitar in the background, offering a few backing vocals here and there, but mostly letting Zooey take center stage. During the encore we were treated to some Matt and Zooey alone time with the aforementioned "Spell", and the two seemed to have some good chemistry together. Are they dating? If not, they should be. Finally, just when you didn't think the band had any songs left to sing, the group left us with a rousing rendition of M. Ward's "Magic Trick." And good times were had by all.

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