Live Review: She & Him and The Chapin Sisters at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, July 9

[ 0 ] July 13, 2010 |

By Micah McLain

The She & Him show at the Atlanta Botanical Garden last Friday evening featured everything from gorgeous throwback pop music and vintage dresses, to dangerous weather and a drunken idiot in a moat. The show started off innocently enough, with The Chapin Sisters taking the stage under a foreboding, yet peaceful, sky. This peace was short-lived however, as the duo’s beautiful folk harmonies were soon overpowered by thunder and lightning that ultimately ended their set a mere one and a half songs into their performance. The crowd was forced to retreat to the buildings near the entrance of the Garden for over an hour while the severe storms passed through midtown.

After everyone rushed back to the lawn to claim new (and, in my case, greatly improved) seats in the now wet grass, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward took the stage along with their band, including the Chapin Sisters. After making a few jokes about how getting struck by lightning would most definitely give them special powers and make for an improved show, Deschanel began playing the opening keys to Volume One’s “I Thought I Saw Your Face Today.” Although the speakers on the right side of the stage crackled and faded in and out during the first couple of songs, the band didn’t appear to be fazed in the least. Aside from the initial sound issues, Deschanel’s voice was impressively clear and powerful while M. Ward’s lead guitar set the pace all night.

To say that Deschanel is the most adorable performer that I’ve ever seen would be a vast understatement. When she wasn’t playing the keyboard or mandolin, she was hopping around on stage with a tambourine in a very child-like manner. Leading the audience through hits like Volume Two’s “In the Sun,” Deschanel displayed many of the qualities that have made her such a well-respected figure in the worlds of both film and music. Although the entire show was a blast, easily the most memorable part of the show took place after Ward and Deschanel had come back onto the stage alone for the beginning of their encore.

After leading off with a stripped-down version of “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” the duo led into the Beach Boys classic “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” That’s when things really got interesting. Before She & Him could get to the second refrain, a man from the crowd jumped into the shallow moat that separated the audience from the stage and commenced to repeatedly splash everyone within several yards of the water. Ward and Deschanel pushed on as if nothing was happening for several minutes until Deschanel finally broke down and asked the man to get out of the water because she didn’t “want to see anyone get rough-housed.” He finally conceded and allowed the security personnel to drag him from the moat and off to the side of the stage but I doubt the guards kept Deschanel’s words in mind. Determined to not be upstaged by the wet hooligan, Ward ushered the full band back on stage before launching into a passionate, guitar-fueled cover of the Chuck Berry classic “Roll Over Beethoven.” Although Ward doesn’t get many chances to sing lead in She & Him, instead choosing to focus on his outstanding (and underrated) guitar work, he took full advantage of their final song to showcase his unique vocal style. With the entire crowd standing and singing along, She & Him sent everyone home on a musical high after a very eventful evening.

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