Through smooth, slow tempos and politically charged rants, Venezuelan American psychedelic folk musician Devendra Banhart charmed a diverse crowd at Emo’s Austin last night.
Banhart’s performance was not only about himself, it was about his fans. During the almost two-hour long set, the 35-year old aimed to please his cult-like following, asking them to request songs they’ve been longing to hear for years. After all, this is Banhart’s first tour in almost 7 years.
The one true highlight of the show was just that: the musician’s connection with his crowd. Coming across as slightly inhibited once he first appeared on stage, Banhart snapped out of it by his second song, vaulting down the stage into the photo pit and running across it to greet his wide-eyed fanatics.
Aside from witnessing his authentic and undeniable magnetism while commanding the stage, I learned two things from my first time watching Banhart live: 1. He is a talker. 2. His shows are completely genuine and spontaneous. While Banhart seamlessly transitioned from acoustic heart-tuggers to full band arrangements to what felt like long monologues, I kept wondering “What’s next?” and soon I received an answer.
Mid-show, Banhart spoke about songwriters and his connection to them. While having this conversation with the crowd, he proceeded to invite a young man by the name of Cameron to perform one of his original tracks. Pulling him out from the crowd, he offered his microphone, guitar and stage to the young man, who performed to a group of open arms.
Highlights included fan favorite “Carmensita”, groovy “Fancy Man”, and a electrifying cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on The Mountain”.