Music Hall of Williamsburg got a crowd down early last night. A variety from retrobabes in collar dresses to bros in baseball caps crowded the floor. Camera Obscura is known for bringing in an array of fans, most of them eager to see the band live since they went on a break following their newfound parenthood. Opening act Laura Cantrell started with a poignant three-piece set, consisting of her on acoustic guitar, Jeremy Chatzky on upright bass and Mark Spenser on acoustic and lap steel guitar. The trio left no rural stone unturned, playing a variety of bluegrass and rustic country tunes. Rolling guitars paved the way for Cantrell’s soft vocals, reminiscent of Gillian Welch and songwriting as audacious as Loretta Lynn. Charming a curious crowd, Cantrell shared that it was her birthday, along with the story of when she first met Camera Obscura. “First time I saw Camera Obscura,” said Cantrell, “was 10 years ago at John Peel’s house…It was his 65th birthday party.” She remembers being enamored by their live performance and segwayed into the next song, Glass Armor, which she co-wrote with Camera Obscura singer, Tracyanne Campbell. Cantrell closed the set with Not The Trembling Kind, a profound ditty that showcases the artist’s confidence in performing live, all while winning the hearts of everyone in the venue.
Sibling fans Irene Sax and Casey Paleos came to the Music Hall eager to hear Camera Obscura for the first time, both admitting that they are avid fans of the older albums like Let’s Get Out Of This Country, while agreeing that the band has a “phenomenal consistency to produce great albums.” Irene, also a mother, was curious to see how newfound parenthood would affect the band, as both Obscura’s Gavin Dunbar and Tracyanne Campbell just returned from their paternal leave to kick off their 2014 U.S. tour here in Brooklyn.
Suddenly, a petite girl approached the stage with her blunt bob, silver saddle shoes and personalized Stratocaster with “Tracyanne” painted on the pick guard. A charming Scottish accent greeted the audience and then went into Break It To You Gently. The crowd ardently sang along. After the song Honey In The Sun, featuring mighty trumpet licks from Tim Cronin, an energetic fan yelled out, “More trumpet!”Campbell responded with a request for Cronin to stop planting his girlfriends in the crowd. Popular favorites like French Navy and Lloyd, I Am Ready To Be Heartbroken were played, to the dancing delight of the crowd, all while offering a new appreciation for Carey Lander’s groovy organ riffs.
The encore consisted of older tunes like Come Back Margaret and Razzle Dazzle Rose, confirming that no matter how melancholic Camera Obscura’s songs may be, their candor and honesty leaves you feeling blissfully content.
Photos by Kassy Balli; words by Gabrielle Westfield.