Rolling Stone recently pronounced freak folk dead. Perhaps, but no one told Devendra Banhart. Charismatic, unpretentious, waif-like, and prone to effeminate arm flailing, Banhart culled songs from his past, most of his latest release, What We Will Be, and a couple that he sung in Spanish.
Hints of Dylan and Bryan Ferry permeated his solo selections, and his feel for the vibe of the crowd and improvised remixes of his full band gave the show an "of the moment" feeling, not unlike that of a Grateful Dead event. The hippie with the late-’60s Keith Richards haircut was more than happy to share the stage and the mike with each of the members of his blues-based band the Grogs, as well as a "random fan" plucked from the Belly Up crowd. A Juno-esque Kira from Kira and the Lesbians accepted Banhart's invitation to perform "any previously unheard original song" and jumped onstage midway through the band's set. Accompanied only by Banhart's borrowed Les Paul, Kira performed a rousing screamer to the delight of her posse.
Banhart, the Grogs, and Kira hardly represent a movement of the past, but a youthful energy painting from a psychedelic palate, borrowing from the masters to create vivid new interpretations. Bring on the freaks.
Concert: Devendra Banhart & the Grogs
Show date: March 25
Venue: Belly Up
Seats: 20 ft back, stage left