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Fleet Foxes, The Cave Singers

Fleet Foxes at The Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA, May 8th, 2011

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“We can banter with a crowd this size even if the banter is 95% about banter,” joked Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold to the sold-out crowd at the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday night. All retro-harmonies and acoustic guitars, the sweater-clad Seattle sextet seems like an unlikely crew to carry the banner as new indie heart throbs. They are, however, ridiculously talented musicians. The band’s superb sophomore album Helplessness Blues builds on the softly crooned harmonies of their self-titled debut—and if the recent boost in profile is any indication, this year could be the year of stadium folk. Square is the new hip? Yeah, I’ll buy that.

And why not? Far from the shirking violets one might expect from a band that trades strictly in pastoral imagery, Fleet Foxes are active performers, boasting intricate finger picking, a healthy helping of gutsy a cappella, and, unexpectedly, a few funky sax solos. The banter never quite got off the ground, (Pecknold introduced “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” with the phrase, “This song is about a very special time in my life,” before realizing he had nowhere to go with the joke.), but the ease and charm of the performance left more than one audience member feeling like they were watching a performance far more intimate than the large-capacity venue might suggest.

While opening act The Cave Singers took a nose-dive into mediocrity during the first song and never completely recovered, Fleet Foxes delivered an all-too-solid 17-song set, ending with a full-throated rendition of “Helplessness Blues.” Ultimately though, most were wanting more—namely, to see the band truly let down their hair and stretch their (fully-capable) skills to an unrestrained, or even slightly sloppy place. However, having already delivered near-perfection, Fleet Foxes have assured the majority of the audience will happily return to see them do it all over again.

Set list:

1. The Cascades

2. Grown Ocean

3. Drops In The River

4. Battery Kinzie

5. Bedouin Dress

6. Sim Sala Bim

7. Mykonos

8. Your Protector

9. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song

10. White Winter Hymnal

11. Ragged Wood

12. Lorelai

13. Montezuma

14. He Doesn’t Know Why

15. The Shrine/An Argument

16. Blue Spotted Tail

17. Blue Ridge Mountains

Encore:

18. Silver Dagger 
(Joan Baez cover)

19. Helplessness Blues

(www.fleetfoxes.com)




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