Devendra Banhart
"November 24, 2009"

Devendra Banhart - November 24, 2009

Theater of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA

"We're going to play some Philadelphia reggae for you now," Devendra Banhart joked in a Jamaican accent during his show in Philadelphia. Out on tour in support of his newest release, which is also his first on a major label, "What Will We Be," Banhart and his band, The Grogs, seemed to be having the time of their lives.

Banhart, who quipped he was dressed like a "gay Orville Redenbacher" on account of his red bowtie and brown sweater, seemed most comfortable when surrounded by his friends-slash-bandmates. The camaraderie of their friendship was evident as Banhart told a tale of getting the band members names tattooed on his arm "in the worst font" on a previous stop in the City of Brotherly Love. Each band member also took a turn in the spotlight playing a song of their own. They ranged from Luckey Remington's Banhart-like tune to blistering hard rock courtesy of Greg Rogove that will appear on the upcoming Priestbird record.

And while new tracks, like "Baby" and "Angelika," were included alongside of more recent tracks that have become just like old favorites, such as "Carmensita" and "Shalom Shabop," it was probably Banhart's solo acoustic guitar set that was most memorable. He touched on standards like "The Charles C. Leary" and even threw in a heartfelt cover of Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory." Banhart attempted to fulfill fan requests for songs but, unable to remember chords or lyrics, abandoned the idea after a few tries.

Perhaps it was the fact that the show was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving or even that the recession is getting to people's wallets a month before the holidays but the show wasn't sold out. Although it was quite crowded, the show had had a last minute venue switch from the significantly larger Electric Factory to the more intimate TLA on South Street. If anything, the move worked in favor of both the musicians and the band.