Show Review: The Chapin Sisters at Café Du Nord, 9/15/10

by Jason LeRoy on September 16, 2010

Abigail and Lily Chapin, a.k.a. The Chapin Sisters, singing with She & Him in festively nautical attire on Governor's Island in July. Photo by Doug Glass.

Sister acts: they’re not just girl-group nuns on the run from the mob anymore. As far as I know, at least. I can’t personally vouch for The Chapin Sisters’ lack of involvement with organized crime. But I can vouch for the utter gorgeousness of their performance at Café Du Nord last night, so I certainly hope they don’t get bumped off by Harvey Keitel anytime soon. That would be tragic.

For my money, The Chapin Sisters are the best sister act on the market. Which I guess is a strange way to compliment them, since I didn’t pay any money to see them last night, and I don’t really know what “market” I’ve accused them of leading. The sister act market? I think there are fewer sister acts working today than the number of news teams that square off in Anchorman‘s legendary rumble scene.

I’m basically saying I prefer The Chapin Sisters to The Watson Twins, and far more than The Webb Sisters. So, yes: the best sister act on the market! Oh, wait. I forgot about Tegan and Sara. But they don’t call themselves The Quin Twins — which, now that I think of it: why the hell don’t they call themselves The Quin Twins! Adorable! — so they’re out of the running.

Anyway. The Chapin Sisters released their sophomore album, appropriately titled Two, on Tuesday. They played a record release show in their beloved LA that night, and a second release show last night at Café Du Nord. The set consisted of Two played in its entirety, as well as a generous helping of songs from their acclaimed debut LP, Lake Bottom, and a pair of covers by strange bedfellows Britney Spears and Doc Watson.

The sisters appeared to be in good spirits, except for the moments when Lily, who resembles Malin Åkerman wearing a Jenny Lewis wig, fled the stage in search of her capo, leaving the stiffly stoic Abigail to humor the intimate crowd. “Um. I guess I’ll tell a joke. No. Someone else tell a joke. Who knows a joke?” she commanded, moments before shooting down the lone respondent, a gentleman who attempted to appease her with the old “interrupting cow” nugget. “A joke that everyone doesn’t know already,” she groused, dismayed. Rough crowd, those Chapin sisters.

But musically, the show was ravishing. Abigail and Lily’s harmony vocals are nothing less than breathtaking, and their songwriting is genuinely inspired. They weave together elements of ’60s folk, ’70s California rock, and old-fashioned Appalachian blues into a hauntingly compelling mix. As my concert date Jen said, “When I was listening to them at home, I was worried it might be a boring concert. But it wasn’t boring at all!” Which is the nicest thing you can say about most concerts, really.

Set list:

Sweet Light

I Can Feel

Left All Alone

Roses in Winter

Boo Hoo


Bird Song

Drop Me


Your Long Journey [Doc Watson]

Birds In My Garden


Palm Tree

Let Me Go

Toxic [Britney Spears]

Digging A Hole

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