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Friday, February 29, 2008

LastNight: Blitzen Trapper at the Bottom of the Hill

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 1:21 AM


By Melissa Baron

Blitzen Trapper with Fleet Foxes

February 28, 2008

Bottom of the Hill

Better Than: Watching the OC on DVD while doing homework. Way better.

Download: Anything from Fleet Foxes, "Wild Mountain Nations" and "Sci-Fi Kid" by Blitzen Trapper. Also check out opening bands Sholi from the Bay Area (they covered a song in Farsi) and Here, Here from San Francisco (they sound like the Arcade Fire's pop punk baby).

Some people claim that the bigger the better, a more music savvy interpretation of this theory could be the more instruments and band members the more rockin'. Tonight's show provided the perfect evidence. Bottom of the Hill opened their doors to about a hundred musicians and five hundred instruments for the four band Noise Pop show (only a slight hyperbole). Sure preparing the stage , tuning and set change took a billion years, but it felt worth every minute.

Sub Pop band Blitzen Trapper hail from the Pacific Northwest. Portland, OR to be exact. "The City of Roses," home to loads of breweries, several bridges, Powell's Books (a full city block of reading material), the Trail Blazers and several indie rock phenomenons (the Shins, the Decemberists, the Thermals, anyone?). Obviously the city could foster enormous talent.

The sextet officially formed in 2000 and since then have released three full lengths and a couple EPs. Their records, especially the newest entitled Wild Mountain Nation, received critical praise. They make fantastic records, however they play an infinitely more awesome live show. All the intricacies and musical layers of the songs play out beautifully for an audience. In concert the audience becomes privy to all the wild instruments required to craft the songs. They use everything from harmonicas to shakers to a melodica and cheesy 80's mini keyboard. On top of their delightful music lies a superb stage presence. They don't talk much but they move and shake (seriously -- with shakers) like you wouldn't believe. Their keyboardist/guitar player/who knows jumped and danced throughout the entire show. They seem thrilled to play and occasionally said sweet things like "You guys are wonderful. I really like San Francisco." More importantly, Blitzen Trapper possess an organic feeling absent from many musical acts. Maybe it was the sticker with the shape of Oregon and a heart in the middle or the Atari sticker on a guitar. Hell, it could have just been the duct tape that kept straps on the guitars, but it felt honest. Their set sounded fantastic, but the song choices for the encore left much to be desired.

For you big time fans, here's their set list (exactly as they wrote it):

Caravan, Murder, Borsking, Summer Town, Devils, M S T, Silver Moon, Big Adventure, Sadvider, Cool Love, Love V, Jericho, Sci Fi, W M N, Woof, Green

After Noisepop Blitzen Trapper will embark on a long tour with Pacific Northwest pals Fleet Foxes from Seattle, WA (best city ever). They recently signed to Sub Pop and have an EP coming out later this month and an LP set to release in June. I want to marry Fleet Foxes. All five of them. Their music warms the heart recorded, but live it's simply swoon worthy. They play organs, guitars, basses, drums and my heart. From their first vocal tuning to the last each note sounded perfectly in tune. Between (breath-taking) vocal harmonies and delightful instrumental melodies they craft ideal songs. "White Winter Hymnal" appeared the crowd favorite. Lead singer Robin maintained precious banter with the audience. He kept expressing shock that people outside of Seattle had heard his music. One audience member made a request to which he responded "How do you know about a song?" Upon her response that she knew it from "the internets" he chuckled and retorted "It's a crazy world." After this presentation I'm sure Fleet Foxes have acquired oodles of fans. Plus, audience members were informed they could "trade or barter or pay whatever they like" for records. "Like Radiohead."

Oh Noise Pop, you always bring me the biggest and the best. - Melissa Baron

Personal Bias: Being from the PacNor (Pacific Northwest if you're not representin'), Seattle to be exact, I'm obligated to be obsessed with all indie rock from my home town.

Random Detail: Robin from Fleet Foxes got noticeably weirded out mid song when he saw my friend Emily singing along to a song, but understood once she informed him she's from Seattle.

By the Way: Noise Pop powers on through March 2. Also, Blitzen Trapper and Fleet Foxes will be in SXSW during their tour (just in case you happen to be there too!).

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Melissa Baron


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