Those who attended Devendra Banhart’s September 29 concert at Philadelphia’s Filmore at the TLA probably got more than they bargained for in several ways. Matteah Baim opened the show playing songs from his record Death of the Sun, a record Banhart called “”the best record in 15 years.”” His slow, droning, female-vocal-accentuated songs calmed the concertgoers who were jittery with anticipation. The first surprise came when Banhart took the stage with a cast of musicians he collectively called Spiritual Boner and described as â€œall having their own stuff going on.â€ Gregory Rogove of Priestbird played piano and drums while Andy Cabic of Vetiver and Banhartâ€™s longtime friend, producer and solo artist Noah Georgeson, were on guitar. Banhart began with a few acoustic songs including â€œSamba Vexillographicaâ€ and â€œSeahorseâ€ from Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon and â€œLittle Yellow Spiderâ€ from Nino Rojo.
ame Then the second surprise came. Banhart apologized for playing songs from the new record, the guys ditched the chairs they used during the acoustic songs, and they turned the volume up to 11 for an hour-and-a-half of quasi-jam-band versions of songs spanning Banhartâ€™s entire catalog. The band played louder and faster than on any of Banhartâ€™s recordings and they inserted parts and solo sections into every song. For instance, at least four instruments and a full drum set fleshed out the once-sparse “”I Feel Just Like a Childâ€ from Cripple Crow. Later, Cabic sung a few Vetiver tunes, Rogove left the drums and played piano on a Priestbird song, and Georgeson did â€œFind Shelterâ€ from his solo record.
ame Banhartâ€™s gamble with sounding so different from his recordings served him well. The audience loved the blissful, upbeat versions of his songs and danced the Philadelphia night away. However, some concertgoers undoubtedly left wishing they had heard Devendra just sing behind his classical guitar a few more times.