It’s not every night you see a drummer snapping photos of his bassist mid-concert. But then, it’s not every night that bassist is Michael Cera.
Yes, Michael Cera, star of such films as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Juno and Superbad, along with three-season TV series Arrested Development. The former George Michael took the stage at the Las Vegas House of Blues around 10:20 Thursday night for a 30-minute set with new indie “supergroup” Mister Heavenly, opening for the headlining Passion Pit.
The 22-year-old Cera—dressed in brown cords, a checkered button-down and a bright red ski hat—played bass, adequately, at stage left. He moved around tentatively, contributed some timid backing vocals and rarely glanced toward the crowd, performing mostly turned sideways or with his back to the room.
Cera motioned to a side-stage soundman to be turned up several times, and it sounded like he eventually got his wish. He left without saying anything to the audience, returned briefly to grab his instrument and case, then vanished for good.
The other members of the Sub Pop-signed quartet—Nick Thorburn (aka Nick Diamonds), frontman for The Unicorns and Islands; Honus Honus, frontman for Man Man; and Joe Plummer, percussionist for Modest Mouse—never addressed the presence of Cera, playing his ninth show in 10 nights with the group. Two more dates are scheduled: tonight in Salt Lake City and Monday in Austin, Texas.
The crowd, much of which seemed aware of Cera’s involvement with Mister Heavenly before the band hit the stage, treated the experience more as an exercise in celebrity gawking—and tweeting—than musical appreciation. Mister Heavenly’s ragged bar rock sounded worlds apart from Passion Pit’s slick synth-pop, and gave the primed floor mob little opportunity to bounce or first pump. A couple songs (the ones primarily sung by the raspy-voiced Honus) had a drunken-piratey/Captain Beefhearty vibe; the rest sounded less interesting at first listen.
Cera and Thorburn share a connection: Earlier this year, Cera appeared in the video for “No You Don’t,” a song off third Islands album Vapours. Still, it’s strange to see a musical entity just starting out, comprising three serious professionals, bring an unseasoned celeb musician into its midst. Early exposure? Sure. But how seriously can the world take a band when its bassist is better known for making infinite playlists than playing bass.