Off Beat Music Guide

Concert Review: Fleet Foxes May 16, 2011

Filed under: Concerting,Music — bethstephenson84 @ 9:12 pm
Tags: , ,

Where: The Tabernacle- Atlanta, GA

When: May 14, 2011

This was the first concert I’ve been to where the band received a standing ovation before playing a single note—and that was the first of six (!) standing ovations that would be given to them over the course of the night. I wanted to start by telling you this so you won’t think I am over-glorifying this show or this band. They deserved the standing ovation before the show, during the show and after. They were stunning, and there are a couple thousand people who can testify to that.

This 6 member, Portland-based band is led by singer Robin Pecknold, and their sound is somewhere between the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkle.  That will seem ridiculous until you’ve heard them. They have released 2 LPs: Fleet Foxes (2008) and Helplessness Blues (2011) and their sound is a careful construction of contrasting starkness and bold energy. Harmonies and reverberation could be the seventh and eighth members of this band because they are utilized in nearly every song.  And they are powerful tools.

Here is an intro video to Fleet Foxes for those unfamiliar with the group. I’m including it on here because a) it’s one of my favorite videos of all time, ever b) it’s my favorite of their songs and c) it perfectly showcases their use of harmonies and reverberation in shaping their sound.

Back to the show. I was nervous about hearing the band live because I so closely associate their music with the North Carolina landscape. I was afraid it would feel gimmicky having this pastoral band play on a big stage in the 9th largest city in the US. Thinking back now, I don’t know what I was worried about because the next best thing to hearing them in the Carolina Mountains is hearing them in a cathedral-turned-music hall.  And The Tabernacle did not disappoint. It accommodated the band’s vocals with nearly perfect acoustics. And leaving the former church’s giant pipe organ as the backdrop was a stroke of genius.

The band played for nearly two hours and covered the majority of both of their albums. I may or may not have shed a couple of tears during “Blue Ridge Mountains”,“ The Shrine/An Argument”, and “Helplessness Blues.” Hearing their perfectly formed harmonies live was a mighty powerful experience. And unfortunately you will have to take my word for it, because the sound quality of the videos really doesn’t do the band justice.

This was one of those shows where I made a conscious effort to soak up every moment. From the way the crowd poured out praises, to the way the harmonies on “White Winter Hymnal” gave me chill bumps, I wanted to remember it all.

Here’s how it went down:

  1. The Cascade/Grown Ocean
  2. Drops in the River
  3. Battery Kinzie
  4. Bedouin Dress
  5. Sim Sala Bim
  6. Mykonos
  7. Your Protector
  8. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
  9. White Winter Hymnal/ Ragged Wood
  10. Lorelai
  11. Montezuma/He Doesn’t Know Why
  12. The Shrine/ An Argument/ Blue Spotted Tail
  13. Blue Ridge Mountains
    14. Oliver James
    15. Helplessness Blues

I was able to video the majority of the show. The only songs I missed were “Your Protector,” “Drops in the River” and “Mykonos”. To see all the videos from the show including three songs from opening act The Cave Singers, check out my YouTube page at:               

White Winter Hymnal/Ragged Wood Medley

Sim Sala Bim

The Cascades/Grown Ocean


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