Friday, June 11, 2010

Concert Review: Blitzen Trapper & The Moondoggies

Blitzen Trapper & The Moondoggies
Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
June 9, 2010

Ed. note: These guys are playing the 9:30 Club in DC on Monday night, and I highly recommend going-- their live show is incredible and you don't want to miss it. Tickets here.

Fact #1: Blitzen Trapper is miles better live than on their studio albums. Fact #2: Blitzen Trapper is miles better live than a whole lot of other live indie-rock acts, something that became clear when they brought down the house Wednesday night in Atlanta, playing a full set and encore replete with a capella breaks, wailing guitar solos, glimmering keys and tambourines. Since it was a weekday show, the crowd wasn't too big, but the band put up a valiant effort, often adopting the rare breed of the 3-axe band with three guitars, one bass, drums, and keys (see below).

While the drummer might have had the best stage banter (seriously guys, work on it), frontman Eric Earley stole the hearts of the crowd with a Dylan-esque whine and a Springsteen-like swagger. These are common comparisons, perhaps, but apt ones, as Earley even emulates The Boss's stance (if not his outgoing persona), guitar low-slung on the hips. See right: Earley and Springsteen, looking not-too-far apart on the genetic family tree. (Uh... Dad?) Earley also took the stage solo at one point for a lovely folk ballad.

The band is fresh off the release of their latest Sub Pop album, Destroyer of the Void, but the difference between the studio and the live performance is incredible-- when a friend and I got in the car after the concert to drive home and decided to listen to Destroyer of the Void during the ride, it was almost unrecognizable from what we had just heard. Sure, the lyrics and melodies were the same, but the album-- at least in comparison to what we had just seen-- lacked an energy. It was sleepy and restrained where the live show was charged and powerful, definitely a testament to the band's solid touring act.

The opening act, the Moondoggies (below) kicked off their set with crowd-pleasing honky-tonk, a keen sense of rhythm, and harmonies that rival those of Blitzen Trapper themselves, enough to effectively transform the Seattle-based four-piece into a band worthy of Georgian admiration; halfway through their set, someone from the crowd who had been whooping the entire show yelled, "'Y'all ain't Seattle anymore!" The mix was near-perfect, though it might have benefited from more keys, the music filled the room and the Moondoggies clearly won over the hearts of the crowd. Stay tuned for more on The Moondoggies, their upcoming album, and a WGTB interview with the band next week.

-- Caroline Klibanoff

1 comment:

Scott said...

I saw Blitzen Trapper a few weeks ago in SF, and while they definitely brought down the house with songs like "Wild Mountain Nation" and "Sleepytime in the Western World," Earley seemed super disinterested, or at least disconnected. Solid show, but I was a bit disappointed with their stage presence.