Touring with fellow northwestern backwoods boys Fleet Foxes, the Portland, Oregon sextet rocked Bowery Ballroom (QRO venue review) with a mixture of pieces off last year’s Wild Mountain Nation (QRO review), and some new material. On March 28th, the band managed to show off all sorts of sides…
Blitzen Trapper started things with the distorted freak-folk of “Miss Spiritual Tramp”, beginning a long set of Nation numbers. However, it was the following “Country Caravan” that really brought the down-home appeal to the fore. The band then gave up their more indie lo-fi side (the one that earned them comparisons to fellow Portlander, Stephen Malkmus) with Nation’s opener, “Devil’s A-Go-Go”. Things got brighter, but no less relaxed, on “Futures & Folly” and “The Green King Sings”, as the group displayed their neo-Beatles/Beach Boys aspect.
From there, Blitzen jumped into some unfamiliar new songs, starting with a choral guitar-rock-grind and an extreme psych-guitar piece. But it was “Shoulder” that really staked out some new territory, with some stripped-down country-soul, while “Furr”, the title track of their upcoming new record, was a country-choral spiritual of impressive weight. In between those last two fell Nation’s funk-folk “Murder Babe”, and the catchy fuzz-fun of “Sci-Fi Kid”.
Blitzen Trapper playing “Sci-Fi Kid” live at Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY:
Also see them playing “Murder Babe”
Of course, it was Nation’s single/title track that was the fan favorite, making clear why last year, “Wild Mountain Nation” made Rolling Stone’s list of top 100 songs. Blitzen then pulled out “Going Down” off their tour EP, a country-twang epic tale. “Cool Love” was some country-funk fun, and it led into the Fleet Foxes joining the band on stage for their final two numbers, Nation’s “Badger’s Black Brigade” and “Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant’s Hem”, both of which really over-delivered their performance on the record. For their encore return, the group dropped two unfamiliar numbers, a country-soul spiritual undoubtedly from the new record, and some country-freak-fun that better be on Furr.
That record, out this September, will be the band’s first on Seattle’s Sub Pop, who’s been developing past their nineties grunge heyday into a strong indie-country stable, from tour mates Fleet Foxes to genre kings Band of Horses. The crowd might have been a little thicker for the Foxes – one of the Trappers admitted that he wished he could banter or tell stories like the Foxes (who also gave away their old, broken mandolin – though didn’t smash it like they first promised…). But Blitzen have found a nice spot, drawing fans from indie, country, folk, jam, and more (you could tell there were some jam-heads when one granola girl bent down to surreptitiously smoke some weed…). And they look to only grow some Furr.