June 8, 2011

Fleet Foxes - DAR Constitution Hall - May 15, 2011

DAR Sound Tech Accidentally Sits On Volume Button

Better late than never I always say. Last month Fleet Foxes rolled into town in a much anticipated stop on their Helplessnessblues tour. If you are unfamiliar with this band or album, stop right now, go over to itunes, grooveshark, mog, rhapsody, or whatever your pleasure may be and listen to the new offering - it's fantastic.

Now that we're all on the same page, imagine those crystal harmonies, those calm, humming acoustic guitar strums, those emotional highs and lows performed live. Yes folks, this band is very capable of reproducing the same intricacies that probably took days to perfect on tape in a live setting. In fact, one of the best shows I have ever been to was Fleet Foxes at the 930 club in 2010 - churchlike reverance doesn't even touch how the crowd responded to the band's sound. It was perfect.

Fast forward to 2011: the band is too big to play the 930 club. Wisely, instead of skipping DC altogether, IMP promotes the show at the concrete thunderdome that is DAR. This turned out to be a huge mistake as reverance was replaced by endless reverberation. Those intricate and gentle harmonies were overamped beyond recognition, and while it may seem impossible, the show was best enjoyed with a set of earplugs I found in my pant pockets.

Cave Singers
Where there some good moments? Oh my there were. The band's demeanor and technical performance was spot on. They played everything off the new record and several favorites from their previous release and EP. Mykonos, Montezuma, Blue Spotted Tail, and Helplessness were practically religious experiences. There was solid banter from Robin and local-drummer J. Tillman regarding the metaspectical of the band's tuning process. Openers Cave Singers were excellent as well. The crowd was pretty solid for a DAR show, but I deducted a point for the endless and forced crowd participation. Hey jerks, this isn't a Wilco show - your requests are not cute and will not be met with witty repartee.

Ultimately I'll remember this show as well performed but disappointing. Take the show, turn it down to five, put it in a church, grocery store, airport hanger, anywhere but DAR, and I would probably put it as a best-of-2011 contender. Scorecard and setlist to follow.

The Cascades
Grown Ocean
Drops In The River
Battery Kinzie
Bedouin Dress
Sim Sala Bim
Your Protector
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
He Doesn't Know Why
The Shrine/An Argument
Blue Spotted Tail
Blue Ridge Mountains

Oliver James
Helplessness Blues

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