The Magnetic Fields & Bachelorette @ the Vic (night 1 pics, review, setlist)
words by Rachel Angres, photos by James Richards IV
Bachelorette @ the Vic
She stood behind a table covered in a black sheet. On top was a plethora of gadgets: two laptops, delay pedals, a mixing board and an ornate drum machine. With a rather quaint and shy affect, her voice trembled before introducing each song. "The set has changed a bit. Chicago wanted me to play a different set than the one I had planned." The crowd sympathized with her, applauding her valiant effort. Her final song, which she announced was from her upcoming album on Drag City, was called "Entertainment." It sounded like a synthesized Annie Lenox song, with reverb and a new-age feel. She left the stage gracefully.
Within the hour intermission before Magnetic Fields came on, people started packing in. Shoulder to shoulder, there were girls tearing up just at the sight of the band setting up. Birkenstocks and plaid shirts were both common sights throughout the eclectic crowd.
They had a shtick. After announcing that it had been 6 years since they played in Chicago, the pianist and band manager, Claudia Gonson, opened the set as she said apathetically, "This song is about a dead animal." They played "Chicken with its Head cut off" from their epic album 69 Love Songs (1999).
Lead vocalist Stephin Merritt, in his monotone voice, began to sing. He played his melodica as the other members sat with their instruments, watching him to cue them in. The lithesome sounds of the cello, played by Sam Davol, rose and fell with thunderous emotion. The steel string guitar played by John Woo, gave the set an ole time feel. The ukulele player, Shirley Simms, stood strumming in the background. Much of their latest album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, includes ironic tongue and cheek lyrics, sang often by Merritt and Simms, in her idiosyncratic voice. Throughout their set they played many of them.
When the band played a heartbreaking version of "The Book of Love," the crowd crooned, cried and laughed in a collective admiration. "Reno Dakota" received the same emotional reaction. Merritt and Gonson playfully chatted back and forth with little quips here and there, providing comic relief in between songs. Their jokes were effortlessly cherished by the crowd, as tacky and dated as they were, laughter echoed from every corner of the room. The band played again one night later, same time, same place.
We don't have pictures of the Magnetic Fields from the first night unfortunately, but we did get some on the second night, and some of the opener from night one. More of those with the Magnetic Fields' setlist, below...
Those pictures were just of the opener at the first of two Chicago shows. Pictures of both bands on the second night, HERE.
The Magnetic Fields Concert Setlist at Vic Theatre,
Chicago, IL, USA on March 26, 2012
A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off
Your Girlfriend's Face
Come Back From San Francisco
(*Stephin Merritt lead vocals)
No One Will Ever Love You
I've Run Away to Join The Fairies
Plant White Roses
Drive on, Driver (*Stephin Merritt lead vocals)
My Husband's Pied-A-Terre
Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old (False start)
The Horrible Party
Smoke and Mirrors
Goin' Back to the Country
Andrew in Drag
Busby Berkeley Dreams
The Book of Love
Fear of Trains (*Shirley Simms lead vocals)
You Must Be Out of Your Mind
Swinging London (*Claudia Gonson lead vocals)
It's Only Time (*Shirley Simms lead vocals)
Smile! No One Cares How You Feel (The Gothic Archies cover)
Tar-Heel Boy (*Shirley Simms lead vocals)
Forever and a Day