She & Him - Verizon Theatre - June 15, 2013
Autumn De Wilde
When I first saw She and Him were playing at Verizon Theater, in Grand Prairie's desolate "entertainment district," I wondered why for the group's first ever stop in Dallas, they didn't play a venue like Granada Theater or Palladium Ballroom.
But once their set was done, and the almost all-couple audience begin to file out, it began to make more sense that this bland venue played host to bland, if still enjoyable enough, night of music.
That's not to say She and Him aren't a good band. I don't need to go into the details of M. Ward's talent at composing a song and musical ability. And the other half, Zooey Deschanel, (who is the group's principle songwriter) has a decent voice, and playfully barbed with the audience in-between songs. Also, of course, she has enough personal momentum that she could have just stood up there and read from the dictionary and the audience would have lapped it up.
Down in the "pit," twenty-somethings stood arm-crossed and cool while listening to the neo-traditional harmonizing of opening act, Secret Sisters. The sisters are pretty talented and received a rousing applause for "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder," which was featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack.
Onstage M. Ward is a marvel to watch. He bobs and weaves between the other players, who are themselves a talented group of multi-instrumentalists. Ward embraces his role, at times transcending what's happening on-stage, lost in his own word of solos and sonic discord, but always adding more to each song.
"I Should Have Known Better," "Magic Trick" and encore "Sweet Darlin'" were standout performances, and featured M. Ward in major capacities. By the time the show was over I was praying for an encore, so the polo shirted bro behind me could stop shouting, "Yea!" and "Okay!" in a shitty Lil John voice.
One thing about She and Him's music: they are a nice break from the twerk-obsessed culture of today's pop music. She and Him are safe for the whole family, but not in a creepy '90s Christian music radio station way, but literally, a show where a father and son duo doesn't seem out of place.
It's damn near impossible to take She an Him in the context of just a bnad and not think of Zooey Deschanel the quirky, awkward actress as well. But Deschanel channels that aspect into a positive context for the band. Her back and forth with the audience compliments more than contrasts M. Ward's spastic switching of guitars after every song, and general lack of interest in speaking to the audience besides a few "thank you's."
And Deschanel has been hesitant about performing as an actor/musician in the past. But she chose well for herself, a talented partner who embraces her musical abilities, while complimenting her shortcomings. Which aren't as viable as one might think.
So, how did She and Him perform in their first Dallas performance? Enjoyable. There's a sizeable fanbase here judging by the turnout. A change in venue might do them good next time, but overall, they were smart, but with the right amount of clever.
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