Bobby Kakouris opens to a fairly sparse room, playing their first post-pandemic show and now accompanied by Andrew Harrington on bass (apart from one song). Both are quite nervous, but provide a lovely opening with simple yet insightful lyrics, while Harrington’s bass give an extra layer to the minimal compositions.
Jenkins starts her set with the bold move of simply dimming the lights and letting crickets and ambient noise fill the room… for five minutes. It’s ideal scene setting, but knowing the whole performance is likely to top out at an hour, the crowd starts to get a little restless. However, all is forgiven when Jenkins and her four-piece band appear, starting with ‘Michelangelo’, and getting our first of many healthy dollops of saxophone.
Last year’s ‘An Overview of Phenomenal Nature’ is essentially the whole set, including an outtake, ‘American Spirits’, and new song, ‘Pygmalion’. ‘New Bikini’ is the first song to explicitly deal with the passing of David Berman, whose tragic death curtailed Jenkins’ touring plans, but more broadly forced her to process her grief while in Norway and informed the album as a whole. It feels like tipping toes into a pool of sadness, before diving in completely during the beautiful ‘Ambiguous Norway’, a song as eminently hummable as it is devastating.
‘Hailey’, about Jenkins’ friend who’s “really hot”, gets a little extra oomph from the drums as compared with the recorded version. It’s perhaps to the detriment of lyrical discernability, but still sounds good. And it sets us up for ‘Hard Drive’, comfortably Jenkins’ biggest song, which ends out the set on a ruminative note, despite the drums sounding a little too prominent.
In lieu of a traditional encore, Jenkins returns to the stage with a “bedtime story” – albeit one about an unfortunate episode involving literal parasites (on the same night Parasite won the Oscars) set to the backing of a Ben Seretan instrumental. Perfectly odd, perfectly apt.