Rarely does a music venue match a band’s aesthetic as well as it did Saturday night when the alter boy-folk revivalists known as Fleet Foxes played an al fresco show at Berkeley’s Greek Theater. Strawberry Canyon in the Berkeley hills is exactly the type of place that inspired the band’s most recent album, the ridiculously successful Helplessness Blues, where the wonder of wilderness interacts with a generation coming of age (the venue is adjacent to the UC Berkeley campus).
Seattle’s Fleet Foxes are something of an anomaly these days, that rare laptop-less band with members who ask for less instrumental volume from the soundboard guy. Their organic approach to the song — hyper-lush vocal arrangements, dreamy and varied instrumentation, and sweeping, ambitiously evocative songs — has, incidentally, won them plaudits from an increasingly broad range of critics and fans alike. Long story short: they’re the new faces of indie folk rock, a title all but secured by their latest LP Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop) released to e-standing ovations this past week on a blog near you.
Long before the new album’s release, the band’s Cinco de Mayo date at Oakland’s Fox Theatre sold out, and Thursday night’s crowd seemed relatively unaware but appreciative of their new work.
Can you hear the bearded men harmonizing? The Fleet Foxes, the Seattle-based Indie-folk sensation with just a bit of hype (there was a Voice of the Year Nomination, a 9.0 rating, and an SNL performance), are sweeping the city. They played the Fillmore last night, and tonight are slated for The Palace of Fine Arts, which is sure to be one of the most zen-like experiences you could ever wish for on a Wednesday evening. There are also rumors of a secret Hemlock show, so keep those Twitter ears tuned. (Though The Palace of Fine Arts to The Hemlock must be one intense shock to the system).
The Fleet Foxes have had quite a year. We knew they were something else when the hype machine made it near impossible to score tickets to their Bottom of the Hill show last Spring (maybe one of the most amazing shows of last year). Then they played the Treasure Island Music Festival, drawing Jack White out from his trailer to watch the magic. They’ve secured the coveted number 1 spot on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of 2008, and this Saturday, will join the short list of indie label bands to perform on SNL. They’ll be performing “Blue Ridge Mountains,” (which Pitchfork crowned the
When Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes starts singing, you feel like the only appropriate place to be is atop of some mountain in the Alps. Their Treasure Island performance, like most of their shows, was a meditative experience - enhanced by the absolute silence from the crowd, the breeze blowing off the Bay and as drummer J. Tillman put it, "the purple mountains of majesty" in the background (which would be Marin Headlines, just to the right of the Golden Gate Bridge). Though they're more suited for smaller, enclosed venues where their impressive vocals can carry, the Fleet Foxes entranced the crowd with songs from their self-titled debut and their Sun Giant EP.