Weyes Blood, Witloof Bar @ The Botanique – Brussels, Belgium
The first time Weyes Blood, the project from Natalie Mering, was slated to play Brussels, the concert was cancelled due to the horrific events at the Bataclan venue in Paris in late last 2015, leading to many concert cancellations. However, this evening Natalie Mering is not here to wallow over the woes of the world. She’s here to transcend them.
Tonight at the intimate Witloof Bar of the Botanique, she is joined on stage by her band. Beginning her set with the winsome grace of the opening track ‘Diary’ off her most recent release, Front Row Seat To Earth, she draws in a hushed crowd of onlookers with her otherworldly, 70s anachronistic throwback vocal prowess. Taking over synths for ‘Used To Be’, Mering soars, her vocals briefly overridden by the acoustics of the cavelike confines of the Witloof. Mering soars despite the less-than-ideal sound space.
The weightiness of her lyrics are counterbalanced by a hilarious, dry sense of humor that holds the crowd in the palm of her hand. “So, seriously one of the best things I’ve heard all day was that the endive was invented right here in this very room about a thousand years ago or something,” Mering (like so many other artists before her have equally found impressive). This is obviously a great bragging point for the venue, who appears to tell everyone the same story. A few days later, when TGA went to check out the concert from The Julie Ruin, Kathleen Hanna shared the exact same story, nearly word-for-word.
“This song is dedicated to that metaphysical vegetable that tastes so good wrapped in ham and bechamel. It’s my fave veg,” Natalie states in her characteristically deadpan style before launching into ‘Seven Words’. Her rendition of the song is pitch perfect, like all the others. In between numbers, she tells the audience: “I feel like the spirit of the vegetable is possessing me and I just can’t stop talking about it. Okay, enough about endives. This song is about something else,” she declares before presenting ‘Away Above’ to the still-giggling crowd of concert attendees. Having the intimate experience that the Witloof provides is a treasure to behold when paired with such an intimately felt set of songs. It is the ideal way to experience the Weyes Blood repertoire, a thing of beauty.
She introduces her final number, ‘Cardamom’, the title track from her 2015 EP, “One more little song for everyone. It’s going to be little ’cause it’s only me. We’re going to take it down to the botanical level.” The rest of the band leaves the stage and she croons alone with her guitar. After a round of hefty applause, they return for an encore with a magical cover of Soft Machine‘s ‘A Certain Kind’, and a final solo performance of ‘Bad Magic.’
Endives, botanics and magic were all involved in tonight’s evening, and none of them were the slightest bit off.