Simone Felice at the Mercury Lounge/First Aid Kit at Webster Hall!

Last night I (Sea) took my dear friend Encie to see Simone Felice in concert for the very first time! We caught his set at the Mercury Lounge and then doubled our concert fun by also catching First Aid Kit at Webster Hall!

Simone’s set left me feeling a little conflicted–there were moments that were absolutely breathtaking and then moments that felt a little strained and even lifeless. Highlights included seeing him back at the kit on “Hey Bobby Ray” and part of the finale “Radio Song” (I originally became hooked on Simone when I saw him playing drums with his brothers and a broken foot while opening for Conor Oberst at the DAR Constitution Hall in November 2007); his always-charming banter and sly crooked smile; a hilarious cover of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door; the seriously amazing slide guitar action going on courtesy of Simone’s friend he identified only as “Matthew”; and a riveting version of “Your Belly In My Arms”.

Low points included the fact that a lot of the harmonizing sounded a little off; there seemed to be some tension between Simone and Simi (the violinist) especially towards the end: when she looked at him it was with a look of pure confusion and later he angrily swatted at her outstretched-to-stabilize-the-mic-stand hand; some of the more intense/slow songs felt laggy and even some of the upbeat ones dragged a little. However, I believe we can chalk all this up to the growing pains of working with a semi-new group and of course whatever capricious moodswings that artists are wont to have.

Final verdict from a first-timer: “I was awash in his hillbilly/tender sex appeal and totally stoked on the amazing slide guitar skills of his bearded friend.”

The First Aid Kit show on the other hand, was one sustained sparklefest–no super low points but no super high points either–except maybe the final song, King of the World, which was rollicking and great and only dampened slightly by the fact that I had hoped Conor Oberst might do a cameo verse (as he does on the album).

PHEW. Now on to getting through Thursday…

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