Show Review: She & Him with The Chapin Sisters at The Fox Oakland, 5/29/10

by Marie Carney on May 31, 2010

The ethereal She.

When Zooey Deschanel walked on stage in a sparkly dress you would have thought it was the next messiah walking out to greet her followers.  In a weird way I guess she is the messiah of sweet indie-ness.  Between her movie career and the success of She & Him, Zooey Deschanel is the It girl of indie rock.  She certainly looked the part at The Fox: bouncy perfect hair, cute make-up, black tights and kitten heels, but what really sold the show was her voice.  From the first note it was strong, clear and emotive, and for the next hour and a half it was glorious.

Show openers, The Chapin Sisters, came out on stage almost shyly, saying into the mic “Don’t mind us, we’re just going to tune for a few minutes.”  So when Lily and Abigail Chapin step up to the mics and start with a beautiful a cappella song, any thought I had of timidness is gone.  They were confident and flawless, their harmonies so in tune it  gave me a chill.  Maybe it’s the sister thing, with a lifetime of singing together, but it was like even their vibrato was in sync.  Amazing.  So when the song ended the already crowded theater burst into applause.

The a cappella part was over after the first song and they played and the performance continued with acoustic guitar and banjo for about four more songs then brought in the rest of the She & Him backing band (the standard guitar, bass and drums).  It was at that point where they told the audience to look for them during She & Him “Up there on that platform.  We’re changing outfits, so just in case you don’t recognize us we’ll be right there.”  The set was great all the way through and they held the audience well.  I did prefer them without the full band though with nothing to distract from their harmonies.

I thought the Chapin Sisters were charismatic and engaging, but then M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel came out on stage, eclipsing everything else.  They really are superstars in their own right.  Maybe it was Zooey’s shiny dress or the years of staring at her on the big screen, but she has such a magnetic presence on stage it didn’t matter that she mumbled between songs and seemed relatively stiff at times, it was all part of the charm and show, and I could not take my eyes off her.

They started the set with two songs off their critically acclaimed first album Volume One, “I Was Made for You” and “Black Gold”.  Not that there was any fear of losing the crowd, but starting with some upbeat old material helped to get everyone excited.  The energy was not lacking in any way, though it was more of a quiet rapture than raucous crowd, but with the country/pop/folk sound of She & Him that was to be expected.  The most enthusiastic moment of the audience came over halfway through the set when Matt Ward finally took a lead vocal on “You Really Got a Hold On Me”.  M. Ward had been relatively unassuming, just playing the guitar masterfully up until this point, and the crowd was ready and excited to hear more from him.  Once he joined in on vocals he really joined in, doing another duet and an M. Ward cover with “Magic Trick”.

Every step of the way She & Him delivered to your expectations, then one-upped it.  You expected them to play a good mix of songs from both albums, but you (or at least I) didn’t expect 25 songs!  Pretty impressive for a band with only two albums.   It was expected that they play a few covers, but bringing in Al Anderson, the songwriter responsible for “Ridin’ In My Car”, was a welcome surprise.  As was the charming Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald duet of “Something Good Will Come From That” which worked perfectly with Zooey’s sweet voice and M. Ward’s gravely dark one.

The show was so good, and everyone was so appreciative, that they ended up doing a second encore.  It may have been only only one extra song, but it was the wonderful choice of “I Put a Spell On You”, by far my favorite of She & Him’s cover songs.  It was a great surprise and the harmony that was added for the live rendition just made it that much more special.  It is a great showpiece, and a perfect closer to an evening full of amazing vocal performances.

The Setlist:

I Was Made For You
Black Gold
Lingering Still
Me and You
Take it Back
Sentimental Heart
Change is Hard
I Thought I Saw Your Face Today
Brand New Shoes
You Really Got a Hold On Me *
Something Good Will Come From That (? Title)  (Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald cover)
Magic Trick (M. Ward cover)
Gonna Get Along Without You Now *
In The Sun
Don’t Look Back
Over It Over Again
Ridin’ In My Car (with Al Anderson) *
This Is Not a Test
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
Sweet Darlin’


Fool’s Rush In (Ricky Nelson cover)
Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover, with Al Anderson)

Encore 2

I Put a Spell On You *

* = cover previously recorded on an album

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John June 3, 2010 at 6:27 am

Thanks for your kind words re: The Chapin Sisters. Email me back and I’ll send you a copy of the EP they made just to sell at these tour dates (Oh, Hear The Wind Blow) – as well as an advance link to their new album, Two – which will be released August 31st.


Jose R Casas September 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

Hi, Marie!

It’ll be great if you can send me a copy of that EP of the Chapin Sisters. I enjoyed their openings for Z&M. I love them. Thanks.



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