Sharon Van Etten, She Keeps Bees @ The Outer Space Ballroom 05.11.14

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The stage at the Outer Space Ballroom was loosely packed by the time She Keeps Bees came on. The Brooklyn duo of Jessica Larrabee on vocals and guitar and Andy LaPlant on drums and guitar were appreciative of the early turn out and thanked the audience several times. Their set was a mixture of folk and blues, with Larrabee’s commanding vocals taking center stage. Between songs, Larrabee engaged the crowd with anecdotes ranging from ripped clothing to dumpy jeans. LaPlant broke into fits of laughter during her commentary. She Keeps Bees were Sharon Van Etten‘s original touring band and also backed her on her second album Epic. Although it was their last night on the tour, they were happy to have been a part of it.

“Your music’s really good!” announced a fan at the front of the stage. Sharon Van Etten fanned at her face, all smiles and replied, “Stahhhhhhp!” The stage is littered with instruments: keyboards on both sides, a music stand covered with a Peruvian blanket that hides an omnichord. Bassist Brad Cook is obscured in the corner, while guitarist Doug Keith positions himself beside Heather Woods Broderick at the keyboard to the left of the stage. Drummer Darren Jessee, of Hotel Lights and Ben Folds Five, nearly fades into the background of the stage dressed in all black. Van Etten is front and center and immediately greets her fans, wishing them a happy Mother’s Day.

Their set leaned heavily on new material, nine of the fifteen songs were from Are We There which is set for release on May 27th. While the audience was mostly unfamiliar with the material, they remained enthusiastic and engaged. It was one of the most quiet audiences I’ve ever witnessed in Connecticut; talking was hushed and minimal throughout the night. Van Etten’s deeply personal songwriting and heavy subject matter is balanced perfectly by her stage presence. She joked with the audience and attempted to hide her set list from the fans in the front row. While singing, Van Etten often makes eye contact with Heather Woods Broderick and the two exchange smiles. There was a definite sense of ease and confidence throughout the band, who had only played three shows together prior to this night. Van Etten commented that she had never felt so comfortable playing new songs as she had that night, attributing it to the respectful audience and her fellow band members.

After a short break, Van Etten, Broderick and Jessee returned to the stage for the first song of the encore, a delicate ballad called “I Love You But I’m Lost,” featuring Broderick’s impeccable vocal harmonies, gentle keyboards and faint brushes on the drums. The rest of the band returned for two more songs, “Leonard” off of 2012’s Tramp, and “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”, which has a brand new ghoulish video. Van Etten’s tour heads over to Europe for a few weeks before returning to the States. For a full list of tour dates head over to http://sharonvanetten.com/

Set List:

  • Afraid Of Nothing
  • Save Yourself
  • All I Can
  • Peace Sign
  • Taking Chances
  • Don’t Do It
  • Nothing Will Change
  • You Know Me Well
  • Break Me
  • Tarifa
  • Serpents
  • Your Love Is Killing Me

Encore:

  • I Love You But I’m Lost
  • Leonard
  • Every Time The Sun Comes Up

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