Never having seen Feist perform live before, I wasn't sure quite what to expect from her live show this week at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Though I loved the "I Feel It All" video she did for the DL show, she didn't really take command of that tiny room, so I really wasn't sure how she'd do in front of a sold-out crowd.
To my delight, however, Feist had stage presence to spare at the Fillmore, laughing at her own forgotten lyrics, enlisting the crowd in a sing-along, and even hopping on top of the piano to croon the Broken Social Scene song "Lover's Spit" with the band's Kevin Drew. And yet the vibe never veered too far toward rock star; it was more like an insanely talented, yet still down-to-earth friend of yours had decided to bring her guitar by your living room for an evening.
The night began with opening act Grizzly Bear, who wasted no time captivating the audience with a set of mellow but richly layered songs that quickly drew the crowd in from the hallways. They were a worthy appetizer for the main event, so
Though she was backed by a full band that was heavy on the percussion, Feist's sometimes husky, sometimes soaring voice was clearly the centerpiece of the show. Her performance of "One Evening," from her first album Let it Die, was sultry and sexy despite — or maybe because of — her reliance on a tattered piece of cardboard bearing the lyrics. On the other end of the spectrum, uptempo rockers "I Feel it All" and "1 2 3 4" from this year's The Reminder felt breezy and beachy, more reminiscent of a summer festival than a smoky cafe.
The show's one downfall was the flow between Feist's wildly different styles, which sometimes felt a little rocky. Granted, it was her second night at the Fillmore, and she could have been trying to mix things up for the fans who'd bought tickets to both shows (of whom, judging from the crowd reaction when she asked who'd been at the first show, there were many). Whatever the reason, Feist saved many of her best songs for later in the show, and at one point, instead of paying attention to what was happening on stage, I found myself trying to figure out what her encore would be.
Luckily, it was an encore worth waiting for, containing both her piano bar-style rendition of "Lover's Spit" and an especially rollicking take on "Sealion" with the members of Grizzly Bear providing the backing vocals and hand claps. She then eased the crowd down from that high with a stunning "Let it Die," a perfect closer to a very good evening of music.