She & Him Take Over Governors Island

15 Jul

At noon hundreds of fans flocked to Governor Island’s Water Taxi Beach in New York City, prior to the free performance of She & Him, opened by Oakley Hall. With temperatures in the nineties and lows just in the seventies, by afternoon the heat tattooed itself to every bit of skin. Desperate to see a band who have been called, “retro pop,” “redolent of seventies am radio,” and “fifties rock and roll,” blankets were laid to rest, lemonade and water was consumed, books were cracked, and friends came to celebrate July Fourth.

via Cavie78

M. Ward, one half of She & Him, is now known as one of the most acclaimed artists of the decade. He first held the attention of such fans like Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis. He toured with Conor Oberst and Jim James in 2005. They were known as “The Monsters of Folk”.  He also toured with sensation The White Stripes. Then in 2007 with the release of Post- War his career took off. He has played with such artists as Norah Jones, and in 2006 attained the attention of actress Zooey Deschanel. An avid fan, Deschanel and M. Ward soon collaborated in Portland to develop the band, She & Him.

via Autumn De Wilde

In 2008 She & Him’s first album was produced: Volume One. Developed from Deschanel’s prerecorded demos it became an immediate hit – eccentric and unconventional like the band itself. Composed of hits like Sentimental Heart and This is Not a Test the band went on to produce their second album, Volume Two, this past March. The band is both eccentric in its tunes and in its name, She & Him, chosen because band mates  Deschanel and M. Ward, “wanted the music to come first.” Deschanel wrote the music for both volumes, however unusual in its upbeat thrill, M. Ward remarked in an interview, “there are a lot of people who write music so that they can take their audience to a dark night of their own soul or to get something really heavy off their chest. I don’t think Zooey looks at music that way, and I think that’s a huge part of where her songwriting is coming from…It’s contagious to be around people like that.”

via Swing Copate

Like her love for music, Deschanel, married to music sensation Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, is a serious actor. She has starred in such cult hits as 2003’s All the Real Girls and 2003’s Elf with  Will Ferrell. In 2008’s Yes Man she starred with Jim Carrey and performed with a fictional band Munchausen By Proxy. In 2009’s (500) Days of Summer), she played Summer, a woman who refuses to believe in love. Her performance as Summer made Marc Webb’s film a summer hit. In an article in Marie Claire Deschanel said, “It’s nice that there are movies and songs about romance — it’s what motivates us as human beings. I’m all for being brainwashed by rom-coms.” Deschanel’s quirkiness and eccentricities are what make her the unique artist she is.

via Johanna Ring

Oakley Hall opened the Converse sponsored concert. The called “pure American rock band,” borne in Brooklyn, has become a sensation with the assistance of tours with M. Ward, Gillian Welch, and The Constantines. Oakley Hall is compromised of Greg Anderson (drums), Jesse Barnes (bass and vocals), Rachel Cox (vocals and guitar), Claudia Mogel (fiddle and vocals), Patrick Sullivan (vocals, guitar, and organ), and Fred Wallace (guitar and lap steel).

via Johanna Ring

Around 5:30 She & Him performed to a crowd of sticky fans. Deschanel commented on the heat, “you all have your back to the sun, we have our fronts,” and applied sunscreen in between such hits as “In the Sun” and “This is Not a Test.” She & Him is supported by instrumentalists: Rachel Bumberg (drums), Mike Mogis (pedal steel guitar, and mandolin), Mike Coykendall (bass, and guitar), and performs with the Chapin Sisters, Lily and Abigail (tambourine, rattles, backup and have their own band Oh, Hear the Wind Blow). After a mix of songs from Volume One and Volume Two as well as a cover, Deschanel accompanied by M. Ward performed with the “band within our band” the Chapin sisters as a special surprise. They performed “My Country Tis of Thee” and afterwards after many cheers and yells, the concert finally closed with She & Him’s “If You Can’t Sleep”.

It would not do justice to their performance to just remark how adorable Deschanel looked as she danced around with a tambourine, or dashed from ukulele to key board, or how she stepped aside to let M. Ward take front and center for a bit, or how he proclaimed:  “it is a beautiful day for music.” Embedded in all of it was a clear and powerful heart and soul that resonates within each member and added a little bit more sunshine to the afternoon.

By Haley Sherif

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