Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Feist gets back in touch with what matters

Indie darling brings Ottawa crowd to its feet

Feist walked onstage to thunderous applause, waves, hooting and PG-rated catcalls, maybe even a marriage proposal or two.
She took it all in stride, with her characteristic poise and enthusiasm — and a little amusement tugging at the corners of her mouth.
The experimental Canadian musician, who dips into a little bit of everything from garage rock to jazz in her songs, showed off her new work to a sold-out crowd of 2,300 at the National Arts Centre (NAC) on Dec 5, backed up soulfully on vocals by Mountain Man — an American a cappella folk trio made up of Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath. They made musical magic together.
The mix of new songs and (a few) old favourites like “My Moon My Man” earned Feist a standing ovation, despite her show being peppered by feedback so loud it made the crowd collectively wince on more than occasion.
Feist said she wanted to blow the audience away with a planetarium-esque laser light show and music “like a gale-force wind.”
She didn’t disappoint.
Feist’s Ottawa show was one of the last stops on an extensive North American tour to promote her fourth album, Metals. But it certainly didn’t have an end-of-tour feel. Energy was high, with a strong musical delivery. Before playing “So Sorry,” Feist divided the crowd into four groups, and like a choir director, got the crowd to kick off the song with a four-part harmony.
To her credit, Feist took the high-art stuffiness of the NAC and made it into something that felt much more alive. Toward the middle of her set, she began playing music with a harder driving beat, and the audience responded, rising and dancing.
Feist looked relieved, and in the middle of a song said, “The first ones standing! Wooooooo!” One usher commented that he had never seen anyone stand or dance in the venue in the two years he had worked there.
While Feist has been a signed artist for years now, she still honours her indie roots by touring with, and graciously lending the spotlight to, up-and-comers like Bry Webb (former lead singer of the Constantines), who opened the show with a set of heart-tugging, country-laced lullabies from his new album, Provider.

Metals, which was released at the end of September, has been lauded by critics. The stark, arty album came after a year-and-a-half-long break — much-needed by all accounts. By the sounds of it, Feist has decided to get back in touch with what matters.