Leslie Feist’s performance at The Warfield changed me. I had slighted the petite singer, known for her bubbly song “1,2,3,4” (featured on an iPod Nano commercial and later on Sesame Street), as a pop star lacking depth. Her 2004 breakout album, Let It Die, was a masterpiece of sweet, bright folk, with catchy hooks like on “Gatekeeper.” But one album never warrants pure adoration, and in 2007, The Reminder, took a dramatic and unsatisfying shift towards forgettable pop music. As if responding to doubters, Feist returned with Metals, a triumphant bridge in her career. The album is darker and bluesier than Let It Die with the added complexity missing on The Reminder.
Her performance commanded the audience’s attention much more so than her banter. Blame it on the “Mondays” or the ticket price ($40-50) which brought an older crowd, but Feist’s call and responses were never answered. The exception was a heckler (and stoner as I witnessed), who screamed out to Feist “I just realized you were harmonizing!” to which she responded, “Yes. Yes we are.”
As Feist walked onto the stage greeted she was greeted by a warm applause. In return she took a bow, not a curtsy. Her notably long bangs covering her forehead, indie chic outfit, and “cute” demeanor, quickly became an after thought as she dove into her grittier new songs like, “Graveyards,” “The Bad In Each Other,” and the cascading “A Commotion.” Even “Mushaboom,” a playful tune took a surprisingly twisted, slowed and hollowed turn becoming an exasperated blues between the choruses. Joined on stage by members of Broken Social Scene (her former group), three backup singers, and a string section, the instrumentation was layered and full.
After Monday’s performance, I was reminded to never jump to conclusions too quickly. Feist’s appearance is comparable to any contemporary indie starlet (namely Zooey Deschanel); and yes, on The Reminder she sounded like one too. But the tenacity of her performance, the darker acoustics that crept up ominously, were anything but comparable to a contemporary pop star.