In the city only for a while

Fleet Foxes at Williamburg Waterfront, 9/24/11. Photo by Rose Chaffee-Cohen.

I love the Fleet Foxes. A big part of this is because they are the only band I’ve ever seen when they were a fledgling local band who rose to national prominence. It would be like seeing Phish at Nectar’s in the mid-80s, seeing the Dead at the Avalon in 1966, or seeing R.E.M. (R.I.P.) in a bar in Athens, GA in the 80s. When my wife and I lived in Seattle from 2006-2009, we started seeing this odd folk group at venues like the Crocodile Cafe in Belltown, or the Conor Byrne Pub in Ballard. Tiny places: we’re talking smaller than even the Mercury Lounge here in NYC, or Harper’s Ferry (excuse me, Brighton Music Hall) in Boston. Think T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge, MA.

Casey Wescott and Christian Wargo

Suddenly, they were signed to Sub Pop, they released an album that we found at a record store in Northampton, MA, they scheduled a national tour and they appeared on SNL. What!? This is a band that could never, I thought, break out of its quaint Seattlite provincialism. Four-part vocal harmonies just aren’t pop. But I clearly underestimated the tastes of the indie rock public in 2008, and the next time I saw Fleet Foxes, it was a sold out show in a theater in Seattle with great acoustics. The audience was practically silent during their performance, and between songs, something the band noted and sort of poked fun at. But it was just so intimate, so quiet – the music seemed to beg the same respect one might give to a string quartet in a symphony hall.

Robin Pecknold and J. Tillman

Something I realized when J. Tillman joined the band was that they REALLY managed to ramp up the intensity through energetic drumming and strumming. Songs like “Ragged Wood” and “Sun It Rises,” which on the album have a gentle ambiance with vocals at the forefront of the mix, become monsters propelled along by instrumentation in the live setting.


And so this trend has continued in their music, culminating in the awesome show I saw this past Saturday at the Williamsburg Waterfront. This is how the Fleet Foxes will remain relevant into the future, this is how they’ll avoid being a novelty “folk rock” act. They’ll just rage hard. Follow this link for my “official review”: Fleet Foxes at Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn 9/24

Consequence of Sound is a New York- and Chicago-based, worldly influenced music blog that seeks to cover the music world as it has never has been covered before. Features news, reviews, mp3, and festival outlook


~ by Jake on September 26, 2011.

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