Show Review: Fleet Foxes @ Stubbs (5/10)
A sold out show is always a good sign of a band peaking at the right time, and such is the case for Fleet Foxes, surely benefiting from the excellent release of Helplessness Blues. Oh, and we can’t forget the opener, The Cave Singers, one of our favorite acts.
I really can’t explain how much I love listening to Cave Singers, whether recorded or in the live setting. Their recent release, No Witch, was a continuous step towards creating a darker-tinged folk music, and not just in title. Every time they take the stage and I see Pete Quirk stalking about the stage with his microphone, I just get this itch to take part in some tribal dance. Traditionally, I think the trio sounds incredible in a dense club, but they really upped their game at Stubbs. Quirk’s vocals sounded incredible as the lightning crashed down from the sky, and the rest of the band did more than enough to allow their grunge-folk to draw every emotion from those in attendance. If you missed Cave Singers, you missed one of the great bands of this genre, a band who can hold their own on any stage, so do yourself a favor and go buy their albums, starting with Welcome Joy.
Having never seen Fleet Foxes in the live setting, I really feared that the brief showers over Stubbs might ruin my chances. Luckily, the lightning danced over us, and the rain barely came down, leaving behind the perfect setting for a night with one of the country’s hottest acts. In fact, every time Peckknold walked across the stage prior to the set, the whole crowd erupted in cheers, and deservedly so, as his band has put out two phenomenal records in their short career.
They began their set with “The Cascades” from the recent release, Helplessness Blues, and from there, I admit that I was a bit shocked at first. While the band is definitely not known for their stage antics or posturing, they did indeed sound a lot louder from the beginning than I had anticipated. J. Tillman’s drumming provided a rolling thunder element to the set, which provided a great deal of strength and energy to the otherwise quiet group.
Throughout the set, the FF bounced back and forth between their debut and their most recent release, with almost every song receiving a great bit of warmth from the crowd. Personally, the first album’s tracks resonated a whole lot more, having spent a great deal more time with that album; they did great renditions of “Mykonos” and “White Winter Hymnal.” While I did find a great deal of the performance sonically pleasing, I found, at times, that the band lacked a certain amount of energy that I seek in the live seetting. Sure, they sounded just as incredible live as they do on their recordings, in fact, I think they probably sounded better last night, but occasionally the set wears on you a bit (see self-indulgent sax moment). But, yeah, that’s just personal taste.
As they closed out with “Blue Ridge Mountains” and “Helplessness Blues,” I was reminded of how strong the band’s catalog is, even though they have a just recorded two full-lengths. Regardless of preferences for band’s in the live setting, one thing is sure after last night’s show at Stubbs: Fleet Foxes are one of the best bands around, bringing in all sorts of influences, and continuing to create artistic music with mass appeal. Well done lads.