March 29th, 2008 - Blitzen Trapper w/ Fleet Foxes and Ola Podrida at The Bowery Ballroom, NYC
Reveiws and Images by Dominick Mastrangelo
The Bowery Ballroom was an all-out mutual appreciation society on Saturday night. Both Blitzen Trapper and opener, Fleet Foxes were on the receiving end of a gracious and appreciative New York City audience. Fleet Foxes, from Seattle, took the stage first with lead-singer Robin Pecknold, carrying a cup of tea and offering the disclaimer that he was under the weather. His bandmates then chimed in that it was Pecknold's birthday. But by the sound of the harmonies that texture many of the Fleet Foxes songs, you wouldn't know that Pecknold was anything but full strength. Songs like "English House" and "Drops in the River" (from their Sun Giant EP) were excellent (equal parts Shins and Midlake) but the real showpiece was "White Winter Hymnal."
Pecknold stopped two lines in, shaking his head as members of the audience clapped their approval to the song selection. Pecknold, truly touched the crowd already knew their songs, said, "You guys are so sweet." The back and forth continued; someone in the front row handed Pecknold a packet of Emergen-C for his cold. Then keyboardist Casey Wescott, bassist Christian Wargo and guitarist Skyler Skjelset combined, relay-hand off-style, to give away a beautiful but no-longer-functioning mandolin. Skjelest, the anchor, deftly tossing it into a sea of arms and hands. The band closed with the slow-fast-slow "Blue Ridge Mountains" (which will appear, along with "Hymnal", on the band's full-length release due June 3) featuring Crosby Stills & Nash harmonies as well as the new mandolin.
Blitzen Trapper, a six-piece band from Portland, Oregon, followed with their brand of energetic rock-folk-Americana songs. Hard-charging numbers like "Devil's A-Go-Go" and jangly "Country Caravan" evoked Pavement, Big Star and the Grateful Dead. "Wild Mountain Nation", the title track from last year's full-length was full-on Skynard. But the band changes genres as much as they change instruments - which occurred between songs and multiple times during songs. (Their record reviews reference everyone from the aforementioned bands to early Beck, the Beatles, and Elephant Six Collective bands.)
Lead singer Eric Earley's voice floated close to Dylanesque to open the bluesy, foot-stomping "Miss Spiritual Tramp" getting the B. Trapp set off to a raucous start. Toward the end of the concert they stopped down for the lo-fi, front-porch hymn "Badger's Black Brigade" which closes Nation before ratcheting up the tempo once more with the noisy rocker "Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant's Hem." Fresh on the heels of last year's record, the band also played the title track off their upcoming record Furr, a beautiful alt-country number furthering the band's inability to be pinned to any one genre.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
4/02 Toronto, ON El Mocambo*
4/03 Buffalo, NY Mohawk Place*
4/04 Cleveland, OH The Grog Shop*
4/05 Detroit, MI The Magic Stick*
4/06 Chicago, IL Schubas*
4/08 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon*
4/09 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry*
4/10 Grinnell, IA Grinnell College*
4/11 Omaha, NE The Slowdown*
4/12 Lawrence, KS Jackpot*
4/14 Denver, CO Hi-Dive*
4/15 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge*
4/17 Vancouver, BC Media Club*
4/18 Seattle, WA Neumo's*
4/19 Portland, OR Holocene*
4/26 Salem, OR Wulapalooza