Band and Crowd Flatter Each Other

July 20th, 2009

The Clientele – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 19, 2009

The Clientele
No sooner had London-based four-piece the Clientele stepped onstage last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg than frontman Alasdair MacLean was singing the crowd’s praises. He announced that he credits the band’s New York City fans for truly keeping the band going for all these years. Well, Mr. MacLean, flattery will get you everywhere. Of course by ensuring the band’s longevity, MacLean deadpanned, the fans are also responsible for the music’s gradual decline in quality. “We love you!” shouted a fan in reply. “You won’t be saying that in three songs’ time,” countered MacLean playfully.

Three songs into their set and, naturally, all in the crowd were swaying along with each note of the band’s dreamy ’60s-inspired psych pop. MacLean displayed more of his charmingly self-deprecating humor in between reverb-saturated favorites like “Saturday” and “Since K Got over Me.” Keyboardist Mel Draisey punctuated MacLean’s breathy, hushed vocals throughout with soft harmonies and delicate flourishes on violin and a variety of percussion instruments. New pieces from the Clientele’s forthcoming album, Bonfires on the Heath, seemed to maintain the group’s melancholy tendencies, save for the upbeat “I Wonder Who We Are,” which found MacLean’s fingers a blur with some quite jaunty strumming.

Once the show ended and the encore was over, those in the crowd planted their feet and essentially coaxed (forced?) the Clientele into a second encore. Though unclear whether they were humbled or perhaps annoyed by the show of devotion, the band slowly made their way back onstage to perform a cheeky Television Personalities cover. The audience may have been treated to a healthy serving of flattery at the show’s start, but I believe we managed to successfully return the compliment by night’s end. —Alena Kastin