The freak-folk, Venezuelan heartthrob, manic-pixie-like playboy of a musician came to Seattle last week to create chaos in the hearts of the young twee-loving men and women of the pacific northwest. Coming to showcase his new album, Ape in Pink Marble, which came out just last year and was well-received from college radio pretty much all over the place. Banhart has been unfairly disparaged by nearly every type of person you know—the weird college friends that call him a “genre-murdering clown”, to the other friends who think American Football is the divine standard for indie rock and anything that deviates is “literal trash”. But even at his oddest, most hippy-dippy of phases, Banhart’s suprising humor and authentic songwriting bring a unique element to the genre that is often humorless. On the new album, Banhart gives us 13 super-chill but familiar songs that all sound the same—but at mutual regard, are all pretty good. The thoughtfulness of the lyrics and intimacy of the melodies make the album interesting without being really in your face about it—you could put the album on in the background of a first date that you might be particularly nervous about, and the record is pretty unwaveringly normal—no red flags for the date to catch by ear. The album reads truthfully without being overly cliché, “Love’s the only lesson everyone knows how to teach,” he sings on the sleepy “Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green.” And “Please don’t love me because you’re through hating you,” he mournfully croons on a slightly less drowsy “Saturday Night.” All solid lines and easy listening.
The show was as you would imagine it to be—gender ratio 6/4 with females in the lead—sober ratio 8/2 with boozers near the finish line. Banhart was very interactive with his crowd, giving small winks and silly dance performances here and there to get a collective giggle going. At one point, a young woman threw a small Venezuelan flag onto the stage where Banhart was sitting and he promptly draped it around his shoulders and danced to his performance of the well-loved “Baby” all across the stage. Overall, the mix of old songs to new ones was pretty satisfactory from a fan standpoint and the show had great movement. After three beers and standing in the same spot for almost 2.5 hours although, my movement went towards the restroom during the pause before Banhart’s encore song. Once in the loo, a series of ladies in my exact same position collectively decided not to return to the dance floor, and instead, to wash our hands and dance around the red, mirrored bathroom of the Showbox together. I don’t think Devendra would have wanted it any other way.