I had never been to the Danforth Music Hall for any kind of performance in my life. I was excited at the prospect of being in a smaller venue after so many shows at large stadiums. There is something about a small intimate performance that adds to the experience. After missing the opening act, I filed up to the balcony seats…surprised to find them relatively empty. After a few songs and a quick bathroom break, I ventured to the floor…seemed like everyone had the same idea. Although the floor was packed, everyone was relaxed and there was space to dance like hippie children.
Solitary, a quaffed and conservatively dressed Banhart stood on the stage alone strumming a guitar during the opening songs. His behavior was subdued and his outlandish stage presence and face paint were replaced with subtle dance moves and hand gestures. Everyone dug the vibe. It seems as though, for now at least, Banhart is putting his music center stage without the distraction of gimmicks. With the release of a solid record like Mala, it makes sense. Refreshing.
He joked with an audience member when they started clapping along with him. He stopped mid-sentence and looked down with a smirk and told them they could stop clapping anytime and didn’t want them to feel obligated to continue throughout the entirety of the song. He paused, “I gave you an out.” The crowd broke out in laughter as he shrugged and continued to play. His band soon hit the stage with ear ringing, floor shaking accompaniment.
My boyfriend had never listened to Devendra Banhart so he had no idea what to expect. After listening to some of the Banhart classics and new songs from Mala, he leaned over and said, “he’s a mix of Julio Iglesias and Little Richard!” I laughed and then thought…yeah he kind of is.