On Friday, the Doug Fir was jam-packed with whiskey-guzzling bumpkins and country-fried music fans. The occasion? Blitzen Trapper and Denver, of course!
I’ve been through a lot with Blitzen Trapper. In 2007 I journeyed to Seattle, Washington for the first time on a trip that would become a precursor to, well, this blog. I was 15 years old, and in love with everything new and hip, and anything having to do with music. It was on my then-new-favorite radio station KEXP that I first heard, “Sci-Fi Kid.” I flew back to Maryland, culled through the KEXP website, podcasts, etc. and finally found the track; found Blitzen Trapper.
It’s no shock that part of the reason I came to Portland in the first place was to be near bands like Blitzen Trapper. And so I’m a bit biased, but I think it would be hard to give Blitzen Trapper a poor review. In their 13 years as a band, their sound has changed, developed, and evolved into a grown-up version of what they were celebrating Friday–their first LP Blitzen Trapper.
BT is a gold mine of early-2000s experimental folk. It’s easy to listen to this record, reissued for Record Store Day this past April, and understand how Blitzen Trapper have become what they are today. There’s trippy long-form jams, tender songwriting, nonsensical weirdness, and a dose of banjo.
Friday’s show was a tribute to Blitzen Trapper’s journey as a band. Tight as ever, they played songs across their catalogue, including a personal favorite, “Texaco.” The band also debuted two new songs, “Heart Attack” and “Thirsty Man” which showcase Blitzen Trapper’s dedication to the sound they cultivated on 2011’s American Goldwing. The 70s-influenced, classic rock-infused sounds mesh well with the folk type persona the band has always held on to.
The new record is set to drop in September, and I am looking forward to ample opportunities to see Blitzen Trapper play around town.
Friday’s show was the first time I had the pleasure of seeing Denver live. The band’s held my interest in the year since releasing their self-titled album because they are the most country band I know of from Portland. My east coast ears appreciate this.
I really like Denver and think that their live show does great justice to their album. They’re getting ready to tour with James McMurtry, so check them out.
It’s been quite a year for Josh Tillman as Father John Misty. Last summer’s Fear Fun has seen wild success, and Tillman continues to wow audiences with his erratic on-stage antics. Saturday night at the Wonder Ballroom alongside Pure Bathing Culture was no exception.
Portland’s own Pure Bathing Culture have me buzzing with anticipation over their first full-length release Moon Tides. Though the band has been active since 2011, it seems like we’ve been waiting forever for a full-length release. The band’s been getting hype from many blogs and has released songs to both Gorilla vs. Bear and Blalock’s Indie Rock Playlist.
Saturday night’s mellow set was a mix of fan favorites like “Ivory Coast” and some new material, like “Pendulum.” The band moved effortlessly between songs, and held the audience’s attention throughout—and performed well enough to distract the audience from Father John Misty’s gaudy stage adornment.
Father John Misty opened with “Fun Times in Babylon,” a staple of his set list. A huge, colorful backdrop of rainbows, mythical creatures, and what appears to be Tillman riding a horse enveloped the band in their own hyperbole. Many of Tillman’s lyrics directly contradict this idea of fantastic decoration—“Try not to think so much about the truly staggering amount/ of oil/ that it takes to make a record”—proving to the audience that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
This was my fourth time seeing Misty in action, and his performances continue to get more and more ridiculous. I find it charming, but I’m sure some don’t, especially those who do take his music seriously. Hearing the same album performed for the fourth time can get tedious, though, and I think that Tillman’s behavior at least breaks up the monotony a bit.
As per usual, Tillman danced chaotically, swinging his hips and waving his microphone stand in the air, enticing laughs and cheers from the audience. He made jokes—“Hey, where do I have to go in this town to find a vegan donut?”—and never missed a beat performing nearly all of Fear Fun. Antics aside, Tillman’s voice is one to be reckoned with. We don’t care what sorts of theatrics he does if he can hit those notes.
During the encore, the band performed two new songs. “We Met at the Store,” is a solo ballad about a man’s fateful trip to the grocery store that leads him to meet a woman who he intends to marry. The second, “I Love You, Honeybear” is a twisted love song, played with the whole band. Between the songs, Father John Misty performed the Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun.”
Though Father John Misty could perhaps dissolve into just another project for Tillman, the band has staying power. Two new songs and an obvious following bode well for Fear Fun fans. And if the narrative arch of Tillman’s musical career is any indication, things are only bound to get more exciting.
The past few months have been consumed by laborious paper writing, publishing a weekly newspaper 10 times over, burning bridges, making connections, traveling, conferences, too much beer, turning 21 (finally), and desperately trying to fill the void in my “no-college-for-three-months” life.
During finals week I swore to myself that I would start this blog back up ASAP, because I miss writing for myself and writing about what I love. Unfortunately, the past few weeks have been filled with more Netflix and knitting than blogging and it has taken me a while to get back in the saddle. But I’m here now, and I will be here every week this summer.
Whiskey kiss is BACK y’all, and its going to be better than ever.
Between writing for Rip City Review, having a cool communications internship, working on campus as a PR babe, and living my life to the fullest, we’re going to have lots of fun.
What can you look forward to? Well, I’m headed off to see Father John Misty soon, and I am excited. Fear Fun has been stuck in my head for a year, and Josh Tillman is the most talented performer I’ve seen in a while. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it. You can look for a review here tomorrow, and one on Rip City Review soon, too!
For now, check out this video that I listen to whenever I’m feeling sad, gooey, or hyped for an FJM concert.
And thanks for having faith in me. This little dream of mine won’t die, and you following my ramblings makes it all worth while!
Let me start by saying that nice baristas who take interest in your life and congratulate you on things like your internship and all of your “hard work” truly make the world go round. Thank you, pink-shirted barista in Stumptown. This blog post is for you.
This weekend was one I was anticipating for quite some time. It was my penultimate weekend in Portland before I head home for two weeks, away from the city and scene that I love. So it is only fitting that I crammed as much Portland-y musical crap into it that I possibly could.
Aren’t you excited?
I have a big post coming later today chronicling my weekend, which was insane, but for now you should just listen to Jaill.
I feel like this song right now thinking about my empty stomach, my headache, and the fact that I got four hours of sleep last night.
I will admit, my summer music preferences (so far) have been influenced much by the Sub Pop Sampler I got on Record Store Day. It is a good thing, honestly–I’d been in a bit of a rut. I really appreciated the song “People in Her Mind” by Poor Moon off of their EP Illusion and I’ve been listening to it quite a bit.
Poor Moon is made up of some members of Fleet Foxes and other scruffy dudes, and though their music mimics Fleet Foxes in many ways, it is distinctly different. It’s like FF chilled out, way less Renaissance-y, and a bit more monotone.
The group has been together for a handful of years, creating music in between touring and recording with their respective bands, and have finally gotten their selves together to record and tour as Poor Moon. They’ll be at the Doug Fir this coming Wednesday, May 30 after wrapping stuff up at Sasquatch, and will continue down the West Coast. I’ll be there, anxiously waiting to hear more than the five songs they’ve released.
Click to listen: Poor Moon – People in Her Mind
I’m obsessed with this album, as in, I can’t stop listening to it and I’ve been listening to it everyday since it came out. Oops. I like this video because it is dark and features Aubrey Plaza. FJM is on tour right now, I will hopefully be seeing him at the Capitol Hill Block Party. (Click through for more info.)