Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch does Bob Wills, Glasgow-style. (Photo By Mary Sledd)
Belle & SebastianBackyard, April 30
Question one in an audience survey conducted by Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian frontman: "Hands up -- who was in Slacker
?" Cowboy hats, Butthole Surfers teases, and Bob Wills covers might sound like a sarcastic poke at Texas cowpoke culture, but the 10-piece Scot pop outfit, in its first journey to the Lone Star state, emanated nothing but sincere tribute and a desire to crowd-please. In fact, their two-plus-hour performance was nothing less than a miracle. Bringing all the dyed-black hipsters out of their seedy clubs and crouching corners to a perfectly divine evening at the Backyard created an atmosphere akin to the fields of Woodstock, complete with geeky girls sitting atop the permanently hunched shoulders of their disaffected boyfriends. "This is the most beautiful place we've ever played," exclaimed Murdoch. For at least one evening, a subculture defined by cynicism, bad haircuts, and rampant individualism actually took on the semblance of a community. On top of that, the band's extended set proved most palatable. The menu consisted mostly of popular selections from the group's earlier, and most well-loved, albums. "If You're Feeling Sinister," "State I Am In," "Seeing Other People," and "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying" were among 20 upbeat tunes served in rapid-fire succession. Newer material was thrown in, the overly modest Murdoch stepping out of the limelight a few gracious times to let whiz-kid guitarist Stevie Jackson peacock his flamenco stylings. Unfortunately missing was vocalist extraordinaire Isobel Campbell, an absence clearly mourned by Murdoch as much as the audience. Belle & Sebastian's often complex pop cacophony on album was executed flawlessly live and with flair, as the band flowed in front of "the biggest audience we've ever played to." Crowd participation of the 3,000 or so in attendance had a British invasion feel with soccer balls, handclaps, and girls in the back encouraged to do the "Beatles scream." One lucky less-than-hetero nerd was invited onstage, and then outdanced by the energetic Murdoch as he could only look on with marmalade eyes. As the feel-good show of the spring drew to a close, the Scots suggested moving the party down to Barton Creek. For a moment, it really felt like we could do anything we damn well pleased.