Concert Review: Eleanor Friedberger @ Pearl Street Warehouse (9/13/18)

Eleanor Friedberger
Eleanor Friedberger (Photo from FB @eleanor.friedberger.official)

Listen up, you should take notice of Eleanor Friedberger! ‘Why would you wanna do that?’

“Because I Asked You To” is a good reason, right? If it’s good enough for Eleanor, it’s good enough for me.

With a leather jacket and white jeans painted with googly eyes, the Rolling Stones’ lips, pills (maybe?) and sundry images, Eleanor Friedberger and her band took positions on the Pearl Street Warehouse stage and kicked off, what proved to be a mighty fine evening, with the excellent “In Between Stars”.

It was this melody, from her fourth album Rebound, that first drew me in, and gave inspiration to keep searching for more.

The third song up, “Make Me A Song”, was destined to feed this search for more catchy, lyrical explorations of indie rock. “Because I Asked You To”, from 2016, was certainly the anthem of the night, as we, the eager masses, were ready to do whatever Eleanor asked of us.

Later, now that the crowd and Eleanor were warmed up (presumably), the leather jacket came off, and her t-shirt shouted ‘Good’ on the front and whimpered ‘Sad’ on the back. ‘Sad’ rarely showed itself, mostly we saw Eleanor gaze piercingly into the audience, and smile knowingly.

Along with the three members of her band, they graced the evening with 17 heartfelt rock songs, including seven from Rebound. Eleanor is a singer, but also a clever songwriter, and a good guitar player to boot. They played while snowflake shaped lights whirled around the Pearl Street Warehouse stage, and the beacon of the venue’s logo shined in the backdrop.

In the middle of the set, Eleanor crooned the strikingly rocking “My Jesus Phase” and then “The Letter”, both with lyrics about break-ups and rebounds, with whiskey. Despite all the talk of whiskey, she only imbibed from a Michelob Light bottle, strategically placed at her feet.

“Everything” began with a story on the origin of the lyrics, about a women who had a boyfriend in Greece and a girlfriend in Italy, that Eleanor had met at a club. Apparently, she also texted Eleanor 17 times that day. She dumped the guy. Eleanor’s response was simply let her know she’d be talked about during the show.

Coming back for an encore, Eleanor played a quiet, solo version of the “It’s Hard”, about the pain and loneliness before finding your rebound.

At some point near the end of the main set, a new saxophone player, yet to join the backing band, got a shout out and a promise to join them on stage. He finally came on for the last hurrah (which I think they added for this purpose since whenever he tried to join Eleanor sent him off), called “Roosevelt Island”. Eleanor left the stage to direct our attention to her merch table and let the band play on for a rowdy jam, before re-joining to close out the exemplary session of music.

Eleanor last played in DC at the Black Cat in November 2017, so the odds of her rebounding here soon seem high. Notice her when she returns!

Setlist
In Between Stars
Stare at the Sun
Make Me A Song
Because I Asked You
Inn of the Seventh Ray
Tomorrow Tomorrow
My Jesus Phase
The Letter
Does Turquoise Work?
When I Knew
Everything
My Mistakes
Are We Good?

Encore
It’s Hard
Open Season
Sweetest Girl
Roosevelt Island

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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