Friday, June 1, 2012

The Many Faces of Devendra: A Review

            On Wednesday, May 23rd, over 1,100 people—mostly of the unwashed indie persuasion—gathered in the main room of the The Observatory concert theater in Santa Ana with iPhones and modest recording devices in hand, hoping to catch the many faces of Devendra Banhart during his solo performance.  Despite the overwhelming size of the venue, the charismatic artist charmed his massive audience into a quiet submission, rolling round Spanish syllables back and forth in conversation with his biggest fans lining the front of the stage, causing the audience to feel a personal and intimate connection with the folk singer throughout the night.
Setting in slowly, with Noah Georgeson (guitar) and Brent Dunn (bass) by his side sitting on stools, Devendra chose the angelic composition, “Brindo,” to commence the evening.  With this choice, he called for full attention from his admirers in the most delicate manner.  Spicing things up a touch in the next bit, Banhart showed the true talent of his clean vocals during his piece, “Hey Mama Wolf,” undulating each chorus with a slight trill that is difficult to master.  The next song was dedicated to Jerry, a fan he met that afternoon at the grocery store, and his girlfriend.  There were no complaints from the concert hall as the threesome began to gently play, “Baby.”  The crowd showed their approval as they sang the final lyrics along with their entertainer, “Because you showed me/ a sunset overflowing/ but who cares where it’s going/ as long as you’re next to me.”
As the night continued, Banhart and his companions unleashed five new tracks yet to be released to the public, as well as old favorites like “The Body Breaks,” “At the Hop,” “Carmensita,” and “Little Yellow Spider.”  At times during the performance, Banhart’s accompaniment left him to his self, his solitary vocals, and the beautiful tones oscillating from his electric Gibson.  To imagine capturing the attention of hundreds of onlookers would normally frighten the normal human being, but this isolated musician never stopped radiating with intensity.  After a few songs on his own, Devendra was joined once again by his skillful partners.  The three effortlessly playing in perfect harmony with each other for over an hour, proving this audience definitely received the $25 show they paid for.

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