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Devendra Banhart takes on Orlando

Written by Marimar Toledo

Going to concerts alone may seem like a frightening journey but can actually be so enjoyable. Not that jamming with friends or making asses of yourselves dancing your booties off together on a dance floor isn’t fun in its own way, but there are certain artists you sometimes enjoy in solitude. When I’m thinking about life, reading a book or just staring into space, Devendra Banhart is one of those artists I listen to for hours.

Promoting his recent album, Ape in Pink Marble, Devendra Banhart graced The Beacham’s stage in Orlando, FL taking fans in a freak folk/indie rock journey. Parking my car downtown for the concert, I was pumped as I walked toward the venue yet filled with some underlying anxiety since I WAS going alone after all. All of a sudden, fireworks started bursting in the sky from what looked like a vigil happening around our beautiful Lake Eola which oddly relieved me. As I meandered around the venue looking over the crowd, I couldn’t help but notice everyone was with someone and it made me feel a sort of sadness for a bit.

Soon after, though, Devendra Banhart came out with four other musicians to make me feel right at home. Gliding from song to song with short intermissions in which he spoke out in both Spanish and English to the crowd, he gave a shout out to people there alone saying that if we ever feel lonely, to just remember that we are literally made up of billions of microorganisms that care so much about us. Weird and random thought yet so, so damn comforting and poetic.

The whole band played with each other sending each other friendly smiles throughout the show appreciating each other’s talent. The band had three dope guitarists, including frontman Banhart, who could go from soft rhythm sections and riffs to ridiculously hype groovy sections which stirred the crowds hips from side to side. Drummer Rogove, who Banhart created side project Megapuss with, kept his steady beat with all sorts of world music flare that kept the flow in tact along with the bassist/keyboard player who switched between instruments so effortlessly.

One of the main reasons I love Devendra Banhart is because he expresses his emotions through music in two languages. As a hispanic-american and fan of language, I speak both Spanish and English on a daily basis and feel that it’s better, sometimes even easier, to say things using both languages intertwined. Of course I only do this if the other person is bilingual af like me and just listening to fans around me at this concert, I could see that some of us at this show came from this same, very niche community. Hearing music that stems from this community and seeing people appreciate it all around whether fluent in one language, bilingual, trilingual, or whatever was a beautiful sight and something so unique I hadn’t ever seen in a show before.

All of a sudden at one point in the show, Rogove stood up from his drum set as the rest of the band played and he spoke the introductory monologue of “Shabop Shalom” which slid into the beautiful ’60s reminiscent, doo-wop jam that the band played so perfectly truly transporting the whole venue to another decade.

Usually, musicians won’t play their mellower tracks because they want to keep a crowd hyped up but Devendra Banhart does things differently. Even if it was a slower track, they would play it which was great considering many times that’s the songs fans will listen to on repeat rather than songs with faster bpm’s.

Every song from “Daniel” to “Golden Girls”and spanish favorite “Carmensita” are stories in and of themselves whether true or simply pure imagination. They’re creative, welcoming and enticing to say the least and pleased the crap out of the freak folk fans.

Before we knew it, the show was over and fans were immediately chanting for an encore. As usual nowadays, the band came back out and played two new singles off of Ape in Pink Marble. “Celebration”, the album’s last song, was the sort of soft goodbye we needed but before they got off the stage again, they shined lights on the disco balls, rocked from side to side and danced leaving the crowd with the groovy “Fig in Leather” still ringing in our hearts.

Have you seen Devendra Banhart in concert?

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