She and Him and The Bowery Ballroom

March 31st, 2010

She & Him – The Bowery Ballroom – March 30, 2010

(Photo: Jennifer Macchiarelli)

(Photo: Jennifer Macchiarelli)

Generic doesn’t have to be a bad word. There can be great comfort in the familiar, standard and unadorned. With a band name like She & Him, the duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel plays to this comfort. Last night they performed a standard 70-minute set (plus encore) of music from their two generically titled albums (Volume One and Volume Two) for a sold-out crowd at The Bowery Ballroom. Backed by a full band (“them”), they opened with “I Was Made for You” from One, followed quickly by “Thieves” from Two. Immediately the show was transported to an amorphous “then”—Deschanel singing her original songs about the familiar: loves past, present and future in a swirl of unadorned pre-Beatles pop.

As the show wore on, even the banter was vanilla flavored (“Where you from?” “What’s with all this rain?”). But the music easily transcended the blandness of black text on a white background. Ward’s guitar was a grease fire of quick solos and well-placed slide playing that stood out prominently in the mix and caused Deschanel to gleefully hop up and down in an endearing dance mimicked throughout the crowd. Above all else, her voice was a cozy, terry-cloth bathrobe—soft, comforting and warm, and just about perfect for a rainy night. In the middle of the set, the band left she and him alone, with Ward on acoustic and Deschanel in front of the microphone for a couple of songs, including a magnificent “Brand New Shoes.” It was stripped down and simple and as generic as it gets. It was also the most powerful moment of the night. —A. Stein