Fleet Foxes @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC 3/30/08

By Amrit Singh
This show was a whole four days ago(!) you guys, so I realize we’re testing the limits of blogger timeliness in posting now. But I was way too taken by Fleet Foxes’ Bowery set to let this photo set slide by. It’s been a long while since I’d walked into a show indifferent about a band, only to walk out an obsessive. Indifferent because I had heard a little of FF’s Sun Giant EP awhile back and rushed to write it off as Jim James redux (which I fully and publicly admit was a hasty assessment; true, there is an undeniable and enduring vocal resemblance, but the rest is pulling from deeper and further away places). Maybe I also went to call bullshit on the post-SXSW hype and yeah, that didn’t happen.

The quickchange came with “Sun Rises,” the song’s pastoral and banjo-flecked slow strum opening up into psych-colored and sunbursting harmonies, a Grizzly vocal splay that changed the Ballroom’s hue (see also: “English House”). If you’re into Droste, Rossen, and the rest of the Bear then start there, but know that the rest of Fleet Foxes’ forthcoming full-length Fleet Foxes — which I’ve literally had on repeat since that night — slides into dustier spaces. They can do Lindsey, Stevie, and Mick proud, as on “Drops In The River” and its violin bowed guitars, or “Myknos.” If you’re a religious person, take “Sun Giant” as gospel. High brow folks should have at the classical piece “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.” There’s lots of the Band in the spirit and earthen rock of songs like “White Winter Hymnal” or “He Doesn’t Know Why.” When their harmonies don’t psych you out, they’ll caress you Crosby Stills & Nash style (something tells me “Heard Them Stirring” sounds amazing on vinyl). Can you believe some morons write this off as Jim James redux?

Singer Robin Pecknold confessed early in the night he had been battling the flu for five days, and OK so the rasps rattling off the tail end of his tenor sorta maybe suggested that. But as he took a last pass through the verse/chorus of “Oliver James” — a cappella, as on record — it was the pindrop, goosebump, group hug moment the night had been steaming up to. Later someone handed him a packet of Emergen-C. Robin, that wasn’t a hint. That was just people being protective of your pipes after what you did to us.

Gush much? Right. Whatever. Go see them. Repeatedly. They’ve got that magic thing. Get familiar at MySpace, check the tour dates and pics, below.

04-01 Montreal, Quebec – La Sala Rossa
04-02 Toronto, Ontario – El Mocambo
04-03 Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
04-04 Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop
04-05 Detroit, MI – The Magic Stick
04-06 Chicago, IL – Schubas
04-07 Rock Island, IL – Huckleberry’s Pizza Parlor
04-08 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
04-09 Minneapolis, MN – 7th St Entry
04-10 Grinnell, IA – Grinnell College
04-11 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
04-12 Lawrence, KS – Jackpot
04-14 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
04-15 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
04-17 Vancouver, British Columbia – Media Club
04-18 Seattle, WA – Neumos
04-19 Portland, OR – Holocene
04-25 Bellingham, WA – WWU Underground
05-24 George, WA – The Gorge (Sasquatch!)
07-19 Chicago, IL – Union Park (Pitchfork Music Festival)

Apologies to Ola Podrida and Blitzen Trapper. Ola, I just got there late. Blitzen: We’ll always have Austin.

Tags: Fleet Foxes