Camera Obscura opened for She And Him at Central Park SummerStage last night to a Rumsey Playfield nearly full of fans eagerly awaiting an evening of soft, breezy music. Camera Obscura were nothing if not punctual. Immediately after walking onstage, the band’s signature heart-on-their-sleeves pop emanated from the speakers, causing those lying on blankets to perk up, eventually stand, and give Camera Obscura their much-deserved full attention. “French Navy” and “This Is Love (Feels Alright)” easily became set highlights as their cacophony of easy-going melodies were perfect for the warm summer day. Tracyanne Campbell’s vocals sounded as pristine live as they do on records, but so does Camera Obscura’s collective effort onstage. Not a beat was out of place throughout their set and each one played was a deliberate attempt to get audience members to turn their attention away from the oncoming storm clouds and towards the stage. Camera Obscura ended their radiant set right before nearly 10 minutes of heavy rain hit the park.
The flash rain was heavy and seemed like it would never end. However, despite a downpour equivalent to a well-pressurized shower at sub-zero temperatures, the audience members stayed cemented in their spots, patiently waiting for She And Him to play—rain or shine. Eventually the rain subsided to a meager drizzle and the sun could be seen in the distance. With the emerging sunlight came She And Him, who quickly took to the stage once possible electrocution from stage equipment was no longer a threat. Also emerging was a very clever man who hid in a Porta Potty during the downpour and walked out bone-dry while the rest of us stood soaked and huddled together like fish out of water.
Zooey Deschanel bounced on stage smiling from ear to ear, happily greeting the audience who so loyally stayed put. Donning a shiny blue dress as luminous as her smile, it seemed like nothing could bring down the talented songstress. M. Ward didn’t quite walk on with the same exuberance, but was equally happy to begin playing. Before She And Him’s set, an automated message was played, urging the audience to watch the band perform live, rather than from behind a cell phone. But as they began playing, Deschanel’s soulful voice was like a jolt of lightning, commanding full attention from the crowd and making the public service announcements unnecessary.
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” had the crowd swaying along lovingly, mimicking the languid dance moves of She And Him’s backup singers. It was clear that Deschanel and Ward have no trouble holding back, allowing the other to show off their talents. M. Ward would inch towards center-stage, leaning into his guitar and reminding everyone of his guitar prowess while Zooey hung back, tambourine in hand, with a look of admiration and enchantment on her face. Perhaps the delight that was almost permanently plastered on Deschanel’s face was due to the magical post-rain atmosphere. Or perhaps it was because it was her parents were in the crowd. No, it wasn’t that either. It had to be because it was also her parents’ 41st wedding anniversary that very night. Deschanel and M. Ward then began playing a sweet rendition of “Stars Fell On Alabama.” With the duo harmonizing oh so perfectly, it was a fitting ode to any long-lasting romance and a perfect addition to the night’s set.