Two nights of Belle and Sebastian satiate fans
Indie pop group gets cozy with crowd at 9:30
Stuart Murdoch dances like he's recently come off a stint of watching hours of "The Breakfast Club" on loop. He twirls and kicks as if the ghosts of Molly Ringwald's past characters have him possessed. The presuppositions about Belle and Sebastian's set possibilities abounded with thoughts of peaceful yawning and wishing for a seat, but two nights of the band's fast-paced new sound at the 9:30 club debunked these theories.
Night one, Sunday, March 5: The band eased the crowd in with "Stars of Track and Field." Bathed in the warm shine of the yellow lights and the welcoming rise of the violin, the audience settled into their comfort zone and realized their surroundings, upping the ante from bumbling feet shuffling to all-out disregard for other people.
"This feels so cozy," Stuart Murdoch said. "It makes me want to get into my pajamas!" The rollercoaster of tempos, from "Funny Little Frog" to "A Century of Fakers" to "I'm a Cuckoo," heightened anticipation and the possibilities. But the band seemed to have pow-wowed beforehand, dreaming up the set with the largest amount of prime opportunities to get down. They rocked "Electronic Renaissance," with a city lights background, "Your Cover's Blown," with Murdoch thrusting his pelvis and hitting the cymbal simultaneously, and "White Collar Boy," with fatter beats and more authentic-sounding harmonies than the recording.
After "I Don't Love Anyone," one of a few throwbacks to "Tigermilk," Murdoch warned his snuggly new friends, "I hope you're glad to know I've come a long way in my emotional development since then, and for that I have this group of people to thank," pointing to the band of seven others, including guitarist Stevie Jackson, expert hand-clapper in skinny-pants. The weep-worthy encore, "Fox in the Snow" and "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying," left the crowd wistful and romantic. The entire set reminded fans of songs they'd forgotten and put new emphasis on the overlooked finer points of their extensive catalogue.
Night two, Monday, March 6: Murdoch and co. obliged silent wishes for infrequent repeats from the night before, starting with "Expectations," tossing in a little "She's Losing It" and breaking hearts with "The Wrong Girl." They kicked the set into gear with the same electric feel of the night before, Murdoch's energy replenished, his dance moves intact. "Me and the Major" and "Judy and the Dream of Horses" capped off the show with an ending fit for 1996.
Openers the New Pornographers are coming off their own avalanche of praise for "Twin Cinema," only hottest woman in indie rock Neko Case and the chain-smoking self-loathing of Dan Bejar were notably absent. A.C. Newman held it together with his harmonic backup band, and they mixed up their set with pieces from each of three albums -"The Body Says No," "Breaking the Law," "From Blown Speakers" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno." The precursor to Belle and Sebastian's undying energy, the New Pornographers set the precedent of fervency and sing-a-longs. The combination unmatched, the choice of songs too perfect, Belle and Sebastian and the New Pornographers created a sublime night for awkward, lovesick fans eager to realize their dream.