My six day music binge (with a day of rest included yesterday) concluded tonight with a show by She & Him at the lovely Park West in Lincoln Park. For those who haven't heard of them yet, the band is touring band for the number one woman on my hollywood chick list right now, Zooey Deschanel. Most people know her as Buddy's love interest in the movie Elf, but I know her as the future Mrs. Pacyna, once polygamy is made legal in America, which I understand is one of the cornerstones of Obama's campaign, right? (Don't worry, Michele gets to marry Christian Bale, it's all arranged and taken care of).
The show was opened by the backup singer for She & Him, Becky Stark, who leads the band Lavender Diamond as her normal day job. Since I try not to rag on musicians when it does seem that they are actually making a legitimate effort on stage, I will sum up her performance thusly: She had a very nice voice, she looked very lovely in her dress, fishnets and mary jane shoes, and the rest of the band sounded great when they played behind her. That is all.
She & Him came back out for a normal set fairly early in the night, and it was immediately clear that this wasn't just yet another vanity project for another Hollywood star trying to succeed in the record business. Zooey really does have a fantastic voice, and you could tell from her live performance that they did not need to fix up her voice for the singing she did in Elf. She really has a strong voice, and I'm able to say this without saying how friggin' hot she is.
Sadly, cameras were not allowed in to the show, which was probably a wise move, since their entire set would have been one giant camera flash, but oh well. This photo I took with my phone camera is sadly as good as it will get.
S&H were at their best when it was down to only Zooey and the other main band member, M. Ward, not to knock the rest of the band, who were all solid performers. Zooey even displayed her ability to play the piano on a few songs, sometimes missing a note here and there, but otherwise playing capably. Ward took the focus off of his talented singing and songwriting (last seen at the Pitchfork festival a few weeks ago), and let Zooey shine. They of course played the majority of their debut album, with several covers thrown in for fun, including their album version of "Your Really Got a Hold on Me," and a Joni Mitchell song.
One thing that shocked me was how absolutely silent the crowd was during most of the set. I thought for sure that there would be major chit-chatting going on, since this was a celeb up there performing and everyone would just be there just to see her. But during the quiet numbers, you could hear only the sounds from the stage, minus an occasional clinking glass or two. How the 1,000 people at the Park West were silent more than the 115 at Angels & Kings for Butch Walker's set is beyond me.
The band wrapped up their main set with their near hit, "Why Don't You Let Me Stay Here," as the crowd clapped along enjoying every moment of it. After a quick encore, Zooey and Ward returned for an acoustic reading of the classic blues song "I Put a Spell On You," with Zooey doing truly impressive vocals on the song.
I can really say after watching their set that Zooey would definitely be able to carry out a career in music if she didn't already have the actress thing to lean back on. Granted, she wouldn't be selling out the Park West on her first show in Chicago, but given the time and the effort, she would definitely be able to cut it.
Oh yeah, in case I neglected to mention it in the review, Zooey is frigging hot. Wow.