all photos: Francis Chung
all words: Megan Burns
When I heard that Bat for Lashes was going to be stopping through DC on tour I immediately called dibs on the coverage; ever since I watched the music video for ‘What’s A Girl To Do?’ about a year and a half ago I’ve been hooked. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect for the live show, aside from harpsichords and lots of sparkly things, that is. I wondered if it would be theatrical, terrifying, or all of the above, and I also wondered what kind of crowd Ms. Khan would draw in. Well, the sold-out show definitely attracted a mixed bag (I saw Jon Gosselin some guy wearing an Ed Hardy shirt…not that that’s relevant, but I just really felt like addressing it), but everyone seemed equally enthusiastic to be there.
I arrived in time to catch the second half of the opener, a band called Other Lives which I’d not heard prior to the concert but I really liked their set. Their music reminded me of driving on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere at night and seeing a pair of eyes reflecting the headlights back at you from the woods, if that makes sense. It was folk without the twang, and it was kind of epic. Although there were a few minor technical difficulties, the crowd appeared to be totally enthralled, and think they really set the tone for the rest of the evening.
And then Bat for Lashes took the stage. She was smiley and mysterious and adorable all at the same time (note: the adorable factor had very much to do with the fact that she has a British accent) and she gave a stellar performance. As predicted, we had sparkly things and harpsichords, as well as a giant wolf-howling-at-the-moon tapestry in the background. The wolf wasn’t the only one howling; Khan howled quite a few times during the set, prompting the audience to do the same. I didn’t howl, it makes me embarrassed when people do that, but I let it slide this time. She played a mix of slow and fast songs (i.e. ‘Pearl’s Dream’ vs. ‘Siren Song’), spending about half the time seated to play the piano and harpsichord, and spending the rest of the time jangling bells and dancing around the stage. She was able to, for the most part, keep everyone’s attention, but as I was standing in the back it was inevitable that I’d overhear some of the obnoxious chatterboxes by the bar. I doubt it was as audible towards the front of the stage, but during some of the quieter songs I could tell some people were getting annoyed with the excess noise.
She came back out for an encore which was an impressive five songs long. I was expecting to get two or three at most, but this was a pleasant surprise. Predictably, she finished the set off with “Daniel” and it was as good as ever. Her voice was tremendous and unwavering, the band was great, and despite her in-person cuteness I still felt there was a hint of that supernatural flare that her songs inspire. Rightfully a sold-out show.