The Iota Club was packed Friday night for what might have been one of the weirdest line-ups to take the Arlington stage. But it was weird in a good way.
The Eleven Fingered Tailor Tour, rounding out its ten-day jaunt this weekend, featured New York City natives My Brightest Diamond and opener Tim Fite. Both acts aimed to please, with audience participation at the top of their to-do lists. Though mildly gimmicky at times, the performances overall were a smashing success.
Fite, who was accompanied by his cousin, took the stage first around 10 pm. Clad in matching powder blue searsucker suits, the duo launched into a 25-minute set that featured a genre-and-era-jumping mix of tunes--from folk, rap, hip-hop and country numbers to everything in between. Igniting the stage with the charisma of a Southern preacher, Fite strummed his acoustic guitar to electronic loops from his cousin’s laptop. Projected behind him was a PowerPoint presentation, which, during songs, played videos of a wheelchair-laden Fite on lead guitar and, in between, engaged the audience with bizarre short stories illustrated with Fite’s own artwork. Though clearly confused at first, the audience was eating up the Brooklyn performer’s antics by the end.
Primed for the main act, the packed house went berserk when My Brightest Diamond took the stage. Led by frontwoman Shara Worden, who toured with Sufjan Stevens as an Illinoisemaker in 2005, the band played an intriguing bass-driven set comprised largely of material from Diamond’s 2006 debut album, Bring Me The Workhorse. The opera-trained vocalist, who sounds like Feist with more talent and more range, said she was suffering a cold but seemed to have no trouble hitting the high notes in the haunting "Something of an End" or screeching the rollicking chorus in "Freak Out." Worden thanked the cold medicine.
Despite deafening applause, the band didn’t reappear for an encore, the only disappointment of the night. At first, it seemed like they were considering it, as the house music remained off following their exit. But when the band’s manager reappeared and whispered something to the guy working the sound board, the lights came on and the crowd started heading reluctantly toward the door. One woman pondered, “Maybe NyQuil finally caught up with her.”