You Will Dance at This Feist Show, Dammit

[caption id="attachment_18144" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="Feist performs in Berlin, Germany, October 2011. Photo: Jakubaszek/Getty Images"][/caption]

Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.

I’m just going to come right out and admit this: I am at an age (over 23) where I like to sit down at a rock show. This is not easy to admit. I’m not a club warrior or a festival marathoner, standing in dirt fields for hours so I can be right up front. I’m parked on a lawn sort of in view of the stage with a beer checking Twitter to see which food stands people are rating well. I’m a comfort girl. But I’m also an I-want-to-have-been-in-the-thick-of-it-during-the-most-amazing-performance-ever girl, which is why I was so down with seeing Feist perform at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House last night. Riotous sound delivered by my favorite woodland nymph/rock star plus really squishy seats and the crisp impact of grown-up venue acoustics? Sign me up.

“Are those chairs a little too comfy, New York? You are not at the opera,” the singer sang/spoke while tuning her guitar for the first song. (How did she know?!) There was a kind of authoritarian bossiness to Feist’s vibe last night, an insistence that we all participate in all the fun we’d signed up for, but it wasn’t irritating because Leslie Feist has the voice of authority/cool big sister vibe that makes you enjoy doing exactly what she says. She took the stage looking like a punk Scheherazade, draped in layers of undoubtedly organic, hand-spun-by-indigenous-people fabrics and joined her expansive band: Two excellent percussionists, another guitarist, and her three backup singers, the beguiling Appalachian folk rockers known as Mountain Man, who were dressed in druidic robes the color of Rag and Bone’s fall palate of denim: violent, forest green, and burgundy. (Look, I just really want those purple jeans).

"There was a kind of authoritarian bossiness to Feist’s vibe last night, an insistence that we all participate in all the fun we’d signed up for. "

The stage looked like an MTV Unplugged shoot, with elegant light fixtures set up to turn each song into it’s own completely different sensory experience -- from the eerie/seedy red light glow of a budget fortune teller’s one minute, to the spare warmly lit yellow glow of Victorian parlor the next.

A few songs in, Feist disrobed, revealing a kind of crimped metallic skirt and a patterned tank, and started to give orders. The guy stage left who was having his own “private dance party” was awesome and welcome to move his chair onstage immediately. The dude a few rows back in blue stripes needed to start dancing immediately and actually, now that we were on this subject, everyone in a floor seat needed to stand up, she spoke-sang, and move to the front of the room because even though this is an opera house we are not our parents. Next thing you knew, the entire floor was on its feet and a man in overalls with his face painted like a skeleton was onstage rocking out as the singer’s unofficial new dance. (I’d like to mock him for keeping Halloween alive well past the sell-by date but I can’t because A.) he was kind of foxy and B.) I don’t think Feist would approve and C.) more than anything, I really want her to like me).

It just got better from there. She passed out a conch shell and instructed people to “blow when you feel it” inspiring a spray of Tweets using the hashtag #rockoutwithyourconchout. She implored the royal boxes to deliver some polite royal-style clapping then admonishing them for the uncouth volume of their applause. For the encore she pulled everyone onstage for a combo story-hour/sit-in/bacchanal, inspiring a near-panic in the venue security but ecstasy and spontaneous slow dancing in everyone else.

By the time it was over, it was like leaving Kindergarten when you’re five and you’re kind of in love with your teacher cause she’s so pretty and cool and why can’t she come live with you? Except in this case your teacher wears see-through skirts that look like bronze tinfoil and lets you drink microbrew in class. I’m so excited for first grade.