Ode to Feist
Feist - Montreal Jazz Festival
by Paula M. Toledo
Feist in the way that she does, has an uncanny talent for visually and metaphorically depicting her music artistically. That yellow dress like sunlight streaming in and out of heavier floating cloud. Her band mates all in dark colours - not a detail missed. Nothing about her aesthetic is by accident. Was her dress made out of raw silk? Yeah I know, random thought.
But wait, here comes the sound. What we've all been highly charged and waiting for. What guitar is she playing, is it a Martin? I wonder what kind of guitar pick-up she is using on her acoustic and what amp she is running through. How does she get that cool filtered sound in her vocals? Her acoustic sounds so earthy, not bright and abrasive that an amplified acoustic can sometimes lend itself to.
She sings, bobs in and around her microphone like a fighter strategically dodging her opponent's fists. But there are no opponents to be found here, clearly, we are all witnessing Montreal's biggest love-in since John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-In for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
She is as dynamic in her vocal performance as she is in her guitar playing. I am in awe of her ability to sing while activating pedal loops and guitar affects as I am in her graceful ease at rocking a powerful guitar solo that would make Neil Young proud to be her fellow Canadian. On a down swing, she strikes her electric with ferocity, a percussive jolt to its strings that makes me think that as petite as she is, I wouldn't want to cross her. On the upbeat she caresses her six, one string at a time - reminiscent of a mother whisper-singing a lullaby to her newborn. Such softness yet strength. So pretty yet rough. Contained yet unleashed. I think about the incredible amount of focus she must have, the zone she must be in, akin to Olympic athletes with their eyes on the medal. To us she has already won the Gold. But to her and in her latest release 'Pleasure', she lyrically alludes to questioning the prizes she has coveted with her music milestones and successes. I heard an interview with her where she tinkered with the idea of dropping out of music. I find it symbolic that her previous album was titled 'Metal'. This metal binds the innocence of her earlier album's success with the rawness and strength of 'Pleasure' - an album I am certain will be instrumental in her staying power.
And just as I wonder about all of this, she finishes her song and asks the audience how they are doing. The crowd erupts as one would predict. But what does surprise me is, without a beat, she turns to her band mates and asks them how they are doing. To be in her bubble yet out of the bubble. To care about the people she has spoken about time and time again, all the 'behind the scene' folks she couldn't have risen to success without. Another random thought. I wonder if she meditates? Because to me, this seems to be the essence of mindfulness.
by Paula Toledo