The Scottish masters of 90’s indie pop melancholy Belle & Sebastian are in the midst of a largely Summer festival-styled tour and stopped by the iconic tennis courts of Queen’s Forest Hills Stadium for a wonderous night of singalongs and good vibes. They just released a trilogy of EP’s and are rumored to have a 10th full-length album on the way, so it seemed like a good time to pop out on the road and soak in some of the affectionate adulation of their legions of fans to pour into their new material.
The extremely shy and pensive NYC singer-songwriter Greta Kline (the daughter of actor Kevin Kline and actress Phoebe Cates) opened the show with her band Frankie Cosmos and proved how far she had come since she first began to release home recordings under another assumed alias Ingrid Superstar almost a decade ago. Since then, this NYC-bred artist has expanded her “anti-folk” stance and has merged with purist indie-folk ascetics and more classic indie-pop leanings to form a very mature sound. She has just released her third album as Frankie Cosmos called Vessel via Sub Pop, and it has gotten some high marks among critics and aficionados alike.
Then came the madman crooner from Seattle by the name of Mike Hadreas, and his band project also has an a very apt alias, his being Perfume Genius. He is something to behold on stage, not only for his always-amazing fashion choices, or his very physically extravagant stagecraft, but primarily for his stunningly lush sound that swells from hushed tones to mighty roars many times of the span of just one song, and that level of artistic feeling can leave audiences stunned in his inspired wake. He made one of my fav albums of last year called No Shape and shows no signs of dulling since I was first stupefied by him playing the small upstairs stage at Pianos at a CMJ showcase several years back.
Belle & Sebastian are known for being very loving and embracing to their fans, and frontman Stuart Murdoch (dressed in what looked like his finest tennis match suit) gave the crowd one long continuous hug for the entirety of Friday’s show. They started the night with a new track “Dog on Wheels,” but quickly broke into hits like “I’m a Cuckoo,” “If She Wants Me,” “Piazza, New York Catcher,” and, of course, the huge onstage party that they are known for with nearly 100 people from the audience invited onstage to dance away for an extended “The Boy with the Arab Strap” before ending the proper set with one of my biggest favs “Judy and the Dream of Horses.” Along the way, Stuart kicked many smiley face balloons that had bobbed all around the heads of the bouncing and dancing crowd all night, as well as coming up to greet fans face to face at the barricades many times throughout the set. It did feel at times like they did not center enough on their most-adored swooning and crooning first three albums and instead gave into the more upbeat poppy leanings of their latter stuff. However, I must admit that pop edge made the show very fun to bop around too, even though it felt like perhaps a bit more of a give into the tastes slightly younger fans. Although they were only left with a few minutes for the last song before the hard 10PM shutdown rule for the venue, they broke into “The Party Line” for with Murdoch broke into the crowd, ran around the crowd as he sang, and finally finished way up in the bleachers, where he seemed to be taking selfies and greeting fans for quite some time after, until well after most of the crowd had piled out of the courts.
Article: Dean Keim