Archive for the ‘Blitzen Trapper’ Category

Last night I saw Blitzen Trapper and Dawes, who have been co-headlining their national fall tour, at New York City’s Webster Hall. In my haste to leave the office and make it to the concert on time, I made the uninformed decision to leave my raincoat and rainboots behind. But somehow, walking to the train this morning in the pouring rain was the perfect way to digest the incredible music I heard.

Blitzen Trapper, a six-piece band from Portland, Oregon, evades typecasting. Despite calling it their hometown, they don’t quite fit into the indie-folk scene emanating from the Pacific Northwest. Really, they are just all over the place. On certain songs they reek of Lynyrd Skynyrd-style classic rock; on others, especially enhanced when Eric Earley (lead vocals/guitar) rocks his cowboy boots (as he did last night), they evoke alt-country. But, not surprisingly, my favorite of their songs (studio-recorded and live) are reminiscent of an edgier Bob Dylan/The Band-style folk-rock.

Blitzen Trapper has mastered a sound infused with tambourines, harmonicas and acoustic and electric guitars. Having never before seen them live, the majority of my favorite songs live on their 2010 album, Destroyer of the Void. Pitchfork adeptly characterizes the album, which mixes “Beatles harmonies, sci-fi synths, classic rock guitars, country-rock twang, and album-oriented rock (AOR) sentimentality into one big, ballsy package.” While they only played one of my favorite songs from Destroyer of the Void, make sure you check The Tree (which features beautiful acoustic fingerpicking and Bob Dylan-style gritty, nasally voice), Sadie and Heaven and Earth, all of which are drenched in golden harmonies.

Despite my tendency toward Destroyer of the Void, last night’s setlist unsurprisingly featured many songs from Blitzen Trapper’s recently released ninth album, American Goldwing, which has been described as the “Dylan-est” exhibit in their catalog.

Astronaut is perhaps my favorite song and the standout track on the new album and did not disappoint live. Amidst funky guitar hooks, twang of the harmonica and the upbeat sound of the keyboard, Eric’s foggy, croak gives the song a timeless feel.

“But I lost my cool and fate loves a fool / Now I’m standin on the edge of the pack / In my spacesuit hopin that this women will call me at last / Cuz’ I’m an astronaut on the shores of this grand illusion / and I’m fallin down at the sound of this beating heart.”

Love The Way You Walk Away is a story of lost love set to a funky banjo and steel pedal guitar. “The old joke stands ‘cause its true I guess / That when you get what you’re lookin’ for ‘ya want it less.”

Furr, the title track of their 2008 Sub-Pop debut, is a flawlessly executed organic, folk Americana song complete with harmonica.

Dawes was the most pleasant surprise of my evening. Though I had come across a few of their songs before, I knew relatively little about this band. When their set started, I decided I would stay for one or two songs before I retired to my apartment for the evening. 14 songs later and two purchased records in hand, I left the grimy venue a converted Dawes fan.

Dawes has a contagious energy that infected me from the first song. Taylor Goldsmith, the band’s front man, literally bounces around stage and appears almost as happy to be there as Josh Ritter. The band, musically influenced by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, connects on a deep level and creates a cohesive unit. Taylor’s vocals are fleshed out by harmonies with the warm voice of the drummer, Taylor’s younger brother Griffin.

Highlights of the Dawes set included:

The following heartfelt portion Little Bit of Everything: 

It is waking up before you,
So I can watch you as you wake.
So in the day in late September,
It’s not some stupid little ring,
I’m giving a little bit of everything.

And witnessing every single person in the 1,400-person capacity venue wail out to When My Time Comes.

Oh you can judge all the world on the sparkle that you think it lacks.
Yes you can stare into the abyss, but it’s staring right back.
When my time comes,
Ohhhhh, oh oh oh.

Here is the official music video:


The best part of the night? Realizing that I was going to be seeing these guys again in December when they play with The Head and The Heart at Beacon Theatre!

Taylor from Dawes and Me at the Beacon Theatre, 12/5/11


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