Wearing a homemade painted shirt of his own design, Picker tried to engage with the audience at Joe’s Pub, which was a little stiff. “How’s your food?” he jokingly asked at one point, eliciting little more than a murmur.
Despite the audience’s lack of charisma, the band still brought it. When they played with Plants and Animals at Bowery Ballroom back in June, they punctuated their performance by hopping down into the audience and playing in the round. This time, the drama took the form of an ivory horse carried through the audience at the start of the show while frontman Ari Picker gently crooned “Dead Bird”.
The women in the band added more subtle dramatic touches, with ribbons and sticks woven in their hair, metallic ribbons around their waists and glitter on their faces.
This fairy flair melded perfectly with the band’s orchestral folk pop sound. The complex orchestrations backdropping their frontier lyrics about simple pleasures and family dynamics creates a quilt of emotional music that wraps you up. It is mesmerizing to both listen to and watch. Violinist Jenavieve Varga in particular has a muscular style that is hard to look away from.
The group played a few new tunes, as well as favorites from the current album, All Alone in an Empty House. They covered the title song, as well as “Walk Around the Lake”, and finished with “Song for the Painter” as one of the encore songs.
In case you weren’t able to get tickets to the sold-out show, the group will be back in New York February 7 at the Mercury Lounge.
Photos by Shanda Boyett. Copyright 2011.