I’m not sure if I’m too young or too lame, but I’ve never had a Belle & Sebastian phase. Standing in the drizzling rain eating my overpriced chicken sandwich, I nodded my head along to a few familiar tracks ("Oh, hey, this song was on the Juno soundtrack.") and observed the Scottish group’s megafans twirl around trying to understand the appeal. After an hour of wading in the indie pool, I will admit—sparkling indie pop at the end of a warm summer day at Union Park was pretty damn charming.
The 11-piece band began their set with an instrumental piece before soaring into “I’m a Cuckoo,” a heartsick pop ditty brought to life in a live setting. The band’s orchestral trademark violin and trumpet was fuller than usual with additional guitarists and violinists joining the rest of the band, making for a full-blown twee jam. Frontman Stuart Murdoch was warm and welcoming, serving as the ultimate hipster emcee and inviting audience members onstage to help perform a few tracks. He even shared his trials with the city’s new Divvy bike share program, “I tried your bike rental program,” he admits, explaining that it surpasses New York’s stressful version, and forcing the audience to chuckle as they picture Murdoch rolling around the city in one of those goofy-looking powder blue bikes.
He closes the night by performing the lamenting “Piazza, New York Catcher” on the lip of the stage and leads the popular piano-driven groove “The Boy with the Arab Strap” as a large sing-along under the rain. Although I still can’t say I ever fully understood it, I could get down with vintage Scottish chamber-indie pop.
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