Feist lights up Park West with a touch of romance

By Oliver Mosier

O Canada! It seems that the best indie rock has to offer comes more and more frequently from just north of here. Bands like Broken Social Scene, Stars, the Arcade Fire, and the Elected are just a few of the growing Canadian musical presences here and abroad. Two artists who’ve participated in Broken Social Scene, Leslie Feist and Jason Collett, performed at the quaint club Park West last Friday evening—an event four friends and I were lucky enough to attend.

Collett opened the show with his dry Canadian charm by saying, “Chicago totally feels like a big Toronto.” He was dressed in typical alt-rock fashion, with a green tie, an orange shirt, a pinstriped suit, and a blazer. Guitar in hand, he went to work. The set included many songs from his upcoming album, Idols of Exile, to be released February 7. At one point, Feist joined Collett onstage for the song “Hangover Days,” giving the audience a taste of what she had in store. When the song ended, to the delight of the crowd, Collett handed Feist an orange flower from his lapel.

After playing a few more songs with energy and verve, Collett introduced a new drummer to the stage. Once again, it was Feist. She played furiously on the drum set while rhythmic clapping captivated the audience. This would prove to be a trend for the duration of the night. When she left the stage, he closed out the set with more mellow songs. In his last song, he adjusted his tie, took the hat off the bassist’s head, and bowed to the audience.

During the brief break before Feist took the stage, my friend Augie decided it was a good time to go the bathroom. Not that this, per se, is important. What is important is that before he could do so, there he was, standing before my friend—Jason Collett. Augie positioned himself for a hug. He got it. Then we got Feist.

In a little quasi-cocktail dress, Feist commenced the main show. Her voice, beautiful and understated, resonated with both the acoustics of the venue and the hearts of the audience. As the show rolled on, she built up a strong rapport with the crowd. The banter culminated with, “We love you” yelled from the front, to which Feist responded, “No, we love that guy!” Sing-alongs were commonplace during a show seemingly built on audience participation. Songs like “Gatekeeper” and “Mushaboom,” staples from her album Let It Die, gave the audience the chance to increase the energy onstage.

The slower tunes were met with swaying hands and quiet singing. When Feist came out for an encore, she invited a couple to dance onstage during the final song. The audience, spanning from college-aged to middle-aged (and beyond), loved the romantic display instigated by the singer. The crowd was asked to take out and raise their lighters or cell phones above their heads to the beat of the music. The concert fit the venue perfectly; the small and intimate Park West was suited for the kind of familiarity that is such an integral part of Feist’s repertoire.

After the concert, we decided to try to meet the band. Why not? As chances of such an encounter became slimmer and slimmer, we all motioned for a taxi. But then, fate intervened once again. From the back door, the bassist—whose hat was taken by Collett earlier—walked out onto the street for a post-concert smoke. This was our opportunity. We walked up and began talking about the show. The next second, the bassist was on the phone with Augie’s mother, Joan Praley. He explained to her the circumstances of the meeting and the confidence and charisma of our group.

Afterwards, in our eternal boldness, we invited the band to Delta Upsilon’s annual Heaven and Hell party, calling it both “the best party of the year” and “a haven for Indie rockers.” Augie rather presumptuously gave Collett his number; William, a first-year in the college, gave directions; and I emphasized the magnitude of such a party.

Feist never showed, but, after 15 minutes of teaching the bassist a variety of handshakes and talking about everything from music to Seinfeld, the other members of our party tried to extricate us from the situation. When we were leaving, the bassist referred to Augie as a charismatic lead singer and spoke of my apparent resemblance to ’80s pop-culture icon Andrew McCarthy. Then, Jason Collett walked outside, and Augie recalled their earlier hug. Collett sighed and said, “Yes, we had a man moment.” That was it.

While the concert was fantastic, the bassist never showed up to Heaven and Hell. And he didn’t even have the courtesy to call and say he wasn’t coming. But I’ll still give him the benefit of the doubt on this one—maybe he got lost on the way.