About four years ago my heart was broken.
It was a few weeks before my sweet 16 and I had convinced my friend Marc to take me to the Troc to see my favorite band, Belle & Sebastian. The drive was fun, listening to the band’s latest album, The Boy with the Arab Strap, and forcing Marc and my other friends that I had dragged along to pretend to sing along. I wasn’t scared when Marc said it was “bad luck” to listen to the group you are going to see on the car ride there. If only I had not been so naïve.
We arrived at the show as the opening band, Cinerama, was playing their set. Then we stood around for an hour before Belle & Sebastian bassist Stuart David walked out and said, Isobel [Campbell, B&S cellist,] isn’t feeling well. We are going to see what we can do.
We stood around for another half-hour. He came out again, this time saying, We are going to cancel, she needs a doctor.
Then the bouncers started their routine, pushing us to the door. Distraught, I cried during the 45-minute ride home.
No one knows what the real reason behind the cancellation was. Rumors have flown around about Isobel’s boyfriend breaking up with her and she was too upset to play. Whatever the case, this little Scottish indie-pop band had garnered many fans to upset by the time they came to Philly for that fateful show.
The tour was in support of their third album, 1998’s The Boy with the Arab Strap. The year before they hit critics A-lists with the classic If Your Feeling Sinister.
The band formed in Glasgow in 1996. They recorded their debut album, Tigermilk, as a final project for frontman Stuart Murdoch’s music marketing class…it was later reissued on Matador records.
A little bit pop, a wee bit folk, and ever so slightly country, Belle & Sebastian have maintained a perfect blend of all things refreshing and sunny.
Their music has provided a soundtrack for road trips with friends, and even trips with the folks to grandma’s (they actually sing along). Their lyrics are witty, sad, and often reference their inspirations (“Your obsessions get you known throughout the school for being strange, making life-size models of the Velvet Underground in clay,” from Tigermilk’s “Expectations”).
The book-smart group has gone from an eight piece to seven following Stuart David’s departure. David left to further the progress of his band Looper with his wife. Side groups are nothing new to the band, however; Isabol (yes, the one who ruined their first show here) is also in the Gentle Waves.
After suspicions that lead singer and songwriter Stuart Murdoch was leaving the band they released a box set of all three EPs (3-6-9 Seconds of Light, Lazy Line Painter Jane, and Dog on Wheels). The much-anticipated follow-up to The Boy with the Arab Strap came in 2000 with Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant.
On May 3, Belle & Sebastian are returning to Philly for their first performance after bailing on us four years ago. They will be making amends to me for destroying a young girl’s heart and returning her faith in one of her favorite bands.
This show follows their soundtrack to the Todd Solondz film Storytelling, and will (hopefully) heal many wounded hearts.
Belle & Sebastian will play at the Tower Theater on May 3 with The Aislers Set.
Kristie Edelstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org