Very seldom do you come across a band capable of generating a live show that surpasses every expectation you previously had for them. The Seattle-based folk-rock band, Fleet Foxes, proved to be one of these exceptions, after I attended their recent show at The Greek Theatre (put on by KCRW 89.9). It was a crisp, cool night—a perfect night, I dared to believe, with a drink in one hand and my other arm around my lady. Every seat had a body in it and we literally had to side step and crawl to reach ours. This was quite the feat when you’re nursing a $12.50 beer…
With a full moon providing the backdrop to this open-air theatre, Fleet Foxes took the stage. Very softly, the guitar started creeping in, gradually joined by Fleet Foxes’ infamous ensemble of harmonizing vocals that meshed together as it surged into their opening song, “The Plains/Bitter Dance.” They then transitioned into a few tracks off their Sun Giant EP, including “Mykonos” and “English House,” that set the tone for the rest of the night.
Playing to a now spellbound audience, Fleet Foxes busted out a few newer tracks off Helplessness Blues. Huge drum sounds came crashing in for “Battery Kinzie,” then dissipated after it’s conclusion into a single guitar playing the opening riff to “Bedouin Dress,” which incorporated a dreamy violin into the song’s buildup. “Sim Sala Bim” came next and they did a really beautiful job of stripping this track down into an epic battle between a single guitar and mandolin.
Following were popular numbers off their self-titled album, Fleet Foxes, including “Your Protector,” “White Winter Hymnal” (an especially huge crowd pleaser), and “Ragged Wood,” intermixed with the newer “Montezuma,” “He Doesn’t Know Why,” “Lorelai,” and a very dark and powerful, “The Shrine/An Argument.” To wind down, the band added a sweet touch to the show by performing the softer, yet equally moving tracks, “Blue Spotted Tail” and “Grown Ocean.” They then concluded their nearly 2-hour set with “Sun It Rises,” “Blue Ridge Mountains,” and the overwhelmingly beautiful “Helplessness Blues” as encores; the latter swelling into an amazing array of guitars and vocal mixtures to create an enormous sound that was the perfect send off after a truly solid performance.
Fleet Foxes was truly one of the better bands I have seen in 2011 because they took advantage of the outdoor venue and made the overall experience extremely deep and epic. Never has a band really made me feel as though I had been taken on a journey after seeing them, but after seeing Fleet Foxes I feel as though I had journeyed deep into the Griffith Forest and back with a greater understanding of how amazing folk-rock music can be.
Check out Fleet Foxes in their “Helplessness Blues” music video below: