Maybe the greatest test a show can pass is how many people are talking about it the day after. Following Thursday’s Jenny Lewis/Beck Edgefield extravaganza, I could tell that this show was something Portland would be talking about for weeks.
Sporting my spiffy new Beck shirt (the baseball tee with the retro graphics of course) I was stopped no less than seven times in New Seasons. In the produce section: “OMG, I wanted to go to that Beck show so BAD!” In the cereal aisle “That was such an amazing show wasn’t it!” From the check out dude “I didn’t even know Jenny Lewis was opening. I totally lost my shit when she and Beck sang Billie Jean together.” On and on it went.
Jenny Lewis was a (self proclaimed) be-robed cult leader, leading her band through the dips and sways of new tunes off her latest release The Voyager as well as deeper cuts like “The Last Messiah” and “Black Light.” Though more mature, Lewis’ voice still carries across a crowd on a line that is toed between joy and misery, uplifting and downtrodden. The calm clarity that intertwines between her often heartbreaking lyrics uplifts the melody and make the melancholy sweet again. With the added delight of her candid crowd interactions, the sun set and Jenny Lewis was enough to make anyone’s day.
Then, Beck came on stage. I sometimes forget that Beck is a small dude. He makes you forget because he is literally a powerhouse, firecracker, or any other cliche way to say larger than life. Dressed in black against the LED (or maybe LSD) backdrop he immediately launched into “Devil’s Haircut” and after 3 songs was already playing “Loser.”
As Beck fans span generations, everyone was pleased by his coverage of his verbose songbook. Some kicked it on the lawn and some of us were dreamily floating, thrashing, or dancing wildly at the front. He sailed through a few songs off Morning Phase, but you could tell that he was more excited to play tunes off of Sea Change, stating that all of the band members playing Edgefield that night had in fact recorded the record with him and in his words, “No one could play it better.”
After an ever-so-brief set break, the encore launched into “Sexx Laws.” Then the real magic happened. Beck just started throwing down lyrics revival style and summoned Jenny Lewis to the stage. Decked out in her sherbert colored rainbow suit featured on the cover of The Voyager, Lewis and Beck launched into a medley of tunes including “Billie Jean” and “Do Ya Thing I’m Sexy.” And then I died. All of my wildest dreams had come true.
Throughout the show one could not help but notice the youth contingency in the wings of the stage. A gaggle of pre-teen kids stood side-stage, dancing and occasionally handing the guitar techs or band members bottles of water. By the last song [“Where It’s At”] the kids had emerged from the wings and had become full on back up dancers. And then something happened that I have not seen at a show in quite some time… the band stood up together, hand in hand, and took a bow, kids and all. After the second bow, the whole crew circled up, heads together, and shuffled off stage. Just like that, leaving the crowd totally pleased, sad it was over, and maybe checking to see where the next stop was, so that they could experience it again.
Words by Bex Silver
Photos courtesy kink.fm
Additional photos by Bex Silver