MusicNOW kicked off last night with performances from Fleet Foxes’ frontdude Robin Pecknold, who apparently played a solo acoustic set of new material (I arrived just as he was finishing), and Joanna Newsom, whose intricate songs proved the perfect aesthetic match to the ornate Memorial Hall. (Check Emily Maxwell’s photos of Day 1 here.)
Festival curator Bryce Dessner introduced Newsom by saying that when his brother/The National bandmate Aaron deejays house parties, only two artists end up being spun: Bob Dylan and Joanna Newsom. “That’s pretty good company,” Dessner said.
Newsom proceeded to deliver a set heavy on songs from her recently released triple CD/LP, Have One on Me. In a live setting, album opener “Easy” was even more representative of her evolving vocal delivery than the recorded version, which has moved from that of a whimsy-laden, (at times) acutely precious utterance — thus the source of her being labeled by some as a “delicate woodland creature” — to a more full-throated delivery that brings to mind prime-era Joni Mitchell.
The attentive, often enthusiastic sold-out crowd seemed split between true Newsom believers and those intrigued by all the critical fuss.
The festival continues tonight with sets by yMusic and St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark). Read my interview with Annie here.