Just days after playing Wired Next Fest in Florence, Italy, Devendra Banhart returned to Brooklyn last Saturday, the same day of his new album’s release. Ape in Pink Marble is already getting rave reviews, and he was set to play the album in full to a sold-out room at Rough Trade. The atmosphere was expectant, tense, and ready. With Banhart’s infrequent touring schedule, their excitement was more than earned.
Folk rockers Rogov served as the opening band. The duo’s acoustic performance—which wasn’t restricted to guitar, despite their simple set-up—perfectly matched Rough Trade’s small, intimate stage. Their Hozier-like stage presence set the tone for Banhart’s equally relaxed show, despite the broiling, frenetic energy of the crowd.
Banhart came on-stage, drenched in red light and holding only an acoustic guitar. He launches into “Quedate Luna,” a quiet, relatively obscure acoustic track from his 2005 album, Cripple Crow. Banhart knew that this was a crowd that knew every word, and that wanted to hear the old as much as the new.
“I have a cornucopia of tunes for you guys tonight,” he said, in-between asking the crowd for requests (to uproarious yells of different tunes from his entire discography, including someone actually yelling “play your entire discography”) and answering fans in English and Spanish.
“Claro que vamos a tocar esa, no te preocupes,” he said when someone yelled out “Carmensita,” one of his more famous songs from 2007 album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. His receptiveness to audience requests for the old music aside—even teasing the crowd with the beginning line from Cripple Crow-era “Santa Maria Da Feira”—he wanted to dig into the newer tracks.
Ape in Pink Marble, Banhart’s 9th release, and the new album is absolutely potent played live, and in every incarnation: the show was split in half between Banhart backed by a band and alone on stage with an acoustic guitar. The balance between electric and acoustic helped widen the lens of the album, from the punchy “Fancy Man,” which saw Banhart traipsing around the stage and swaying his hips, to hushed new single “Saturday Night.”
The crowd knew every word and relished this unexpected show which, of course, ended with “Carmensita;” despite the song being completely in Spanish, everyone was shouting the words at the top of their lungs.
Devendra Banhart and Rogov play Club Bahia in Los Angeles, California.