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I Saw Feist at Orpheum Theatre

Photo by Salvio Araujo

I saw Feist last night at Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. I was in the second row of the two-row pit. She was beautiful. She had backup from six other artists. They were beautiful, too.

I hate to pack this piece with similes and metaphors, but how else can I tell you that the crowd was like a body of water? Quiet and stagnant like a swamp in some moments. Blown into rippling ocean waves by Feist herself in others. A sea of people, salted by their sweat, seemed to turn red when she asked them to hit notes that they would never attempt outside of the privacy of solitude. Somehow she pulled it out of them and their song floated on the surface as she dove in. But you know, the sea never parted, or departed.

Feist reminded me of women I’ve never met (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chan Marshall). Petite and mighty, said her step. When she smiles, you smile too, and you meant it.

The show went swimmingly.

Photo by Salvio Araujo

People who left their seats and waded in the pit seemed most content to be close, even if that meant they had to stand. They were hardly embarrassed at what they were doing, or scared of being called a rule breaker because Feist told them to. Feist’s presence was even more powerful when she stepped away from the mic. She’d stand at the edge of the stage, looking down at the fans and smiling as if they were her obedient children. And for the night, they were.

It’s hard to pick out the best moments, in a blur of brilliance.

I remember her telling fans to come fill in the pit and the trickle and then flood of people it brought. They collected in the small space that separated me from the stage. I’ll admit that it was overwhelming at times.

I remember her asking the crowd why they sang an extra note in a song, adding that everyone, everywhere does it and teasing, “teach me the song.”

I remember the three backup singers, who are in a band of their own named Mountain Man. They swayed back and forth, their harmonies adding depth to Feist’s already full voice. At one point they were given the opportunity to sing alone on stage. When they finished their undoubtedly beautiful song and one lifted her arm, the man in front of me remarked on the hair in her armpit. “It was just so much,” he told the woman he had come with. How silly of him to discuss body hair following a performance so special.

I remember the guy who stood farther back than I, but closer than what his ticket said, who handed his iPhone to a stranger and asked him to take a picture of Feist. The stranger obliged and took three instead of one.

Photo by Salvio Araujo

I tried to take mental images. Maybe I did. I didn’t pull out my phone and snap photos or videos. I know my memory is fleeting. The good parts of the show may have already slipped my mind, which is not a reflection of their goodness, I assure you.

I don’t know if it’s the music, or the setting (I sat in the same seat I did for Jeff Tweedy in December 2009), or my overwhelming longing for love, but I am still smitten. Wild and zealous. Last night was magical and if you don’t believe in magic, then how do you believe in Feist?

For nearly two hours she performed songs old and new. When the audience begged with clapped hands for an encore, she delivered a few more songs. When their hoots and hollers petitioned for more, she came back on the stage, bowed a few times, strapped on her guitar and gave them another.

Yes, it was more than I had anticipated.
No, she did not sing “1234.”

It also deserves mention that the three-piece band Timber Timbre opened the show and did a fine job. Their music is worth exploring.

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