Attendees stretched out on the Idaho Botanical Garden's wide grassy lawn on May 29, quietly rummaging through picnic baskets and listening to the lilting coo of female a capella folk trio Mountain Man.
Though Mountain Man’s sound would be at home on the O’ Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, the trio’s stage banter was far less polished. Asides about prom and popularity distracted from the group’s set, as did their lack of stage presence. In fact, my date wasn’t even aware that a live band was playing until well after we’d nabbed a couple of beers and settled into our spot.
But when Canadian songstress Leslie Feist finally took the stage in a floppy hat with a full band in tow, the mood instantly changed. Feist launched into “Comfort Me,” off her 2011 release Metals, singing: "When you comfort me / It doesn't bring me comfort actually."
She paused to prod the seated crowd: “You guys look comfortable but maybe you could also sing along?”
In between chiding the tame audience, Feist also called out to the freeloading “desert people” sprinkled on the hills behind the Botanical Garden.
“Did you bring some nice cheese and crackers and a bag of white wine? We're basically like a drive-in movie for grown ups ... and the kids on the hill are all on peyote,” she laughed.
Feist made it her mission to get the IBG crowd off its butts by the end of her 90-minute set. And with the lonely desert twang of her guitar, galloping drums and chirping, powerful backup vocals from the now-dolled-up Mountain Man, she succeeded.
As she rocked through new renditions of hits like “I Feel It All” off 2007’s The Reminder and “Mushaboom” off 2004’s Let It Die, fans crowded around the stage. Though her sound has changed markedly from the endearing indie pop Feist of the mid-2000s to the darker, Western-tinged rocker she is today, fans ate it up like their fancy cheese.
Feist closed out her set with “Get it Wrong, Get it Right” off Metals, with particularly lovely back-up harmonies that reverberated out into the early evening. Her encore offered up more favorites like “The Limit to Your Love” and “Let It Die,” which she followed by a second solo encore of “Intuition.” As the seated crowd packed up their picnics and low-backed chairs, the front row faithful sung back the lyrics: “Did I, did I miss out on you.”
Thankfully, we did not.