Photographs by Janine Wong.
Devendra Banhart’s stop in Toronto at the Phoenix got off to an unremarkable start thanks to his opening acts Rogov and Josiah Steinbrick.
But the just shy of two hour set that followed more than made up for it.
Rogov and his bandmate were seated for most of their short set, playing moody folk songs that had a psychedelic tinge to them. Steinbrick’s set felt more like a DJ set before Banhart hit the stage. He played a minimal electronic song.
Banhart took to the stage to ‘Saturday Night’ from his latest release Ape in Pink Marble. He was incredibly at ease as he bantered easily with the sizable audience who cheered each song, showing a comfortable familiarity with the songs from his nine albums.
He doubtlessly endeared himself to the crowd when he apologized for America voting in Donald Trump and told a rambling story about the meaning of Toronto. Even though it was cold outside, he brought a sunny, tropical feel to several songs, something that helped everyone to forget the frigid weather outside.
One of the evenings highlights came when it was just Banhart on stage playing a number of older songs.
He invited an audience member on stage to tell a couple jokes, one was a definite dad joke while another was a bit more raunchy.
Rogov, aka Gregory Rogove, does double duty as Banhart’s drummer and he was in the spotlight once again as he delivered the spoken word interlude from ‘Shabop Shalom’. It seemed like they wouldn’t be able to top the rousing ‘Fancy Man’ but when the band returned to the stage for a three song encore, they surpassed it.
He summed up the thoughts of many before launching into ‘Fig in Leather’, “Fuck Trump! Let’s disco!” Banhart and his bandmates wrapped up the evening with ‘Carmensita’, which saw the band jamming at the end before leaving the stage.