Review: Blitzen Trapper, February 21, The Horseshoe, Toronto
Like most of the fans at last night's Blitzen Trapper show, I only learned of their music upon the release of 2008's Furr. I first listened to Furr on a train from Windsor to Toronto, Ontario, and I thought, "man, these dudes are hippies," and I got the urge to smoke a giant joint. I would describe their music as folk-rock, but they cross so many genres that its hard to put a label on them. Their music is similar to that of their fellow Portland, Oregon, residents, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. Furr is a good album, and it made many critic's 2008 best-of lists. I find that it drags a bit towards the end, with too many mellow folky tunes for my taste. Furr is their fourth album, and their second release from the Sub Pop label.
Three things surprised me at their sold out show at the Horseshoe last night. First, for the most part these guys are not the unshowered, hairy hippies that I thought they would be. Second, the sextet uses a huge range of instrumentation, including several keyboards and synthesizers, lots of percussion instruments, and even musical toys. Third, they really rocked their live show! The lead singer had a great vocal performance, and displayed his musical grace on the keyboards, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. (Bear with me people, I don't know the band member's names.) He was complemented vocally by the harmonies of the drummer and the chatty, red-head multi-instrumentalist at the right of the stage. The Horseshoe was blazingly hot on this cold, snowy winter night, and the heat can bugger up vocal harmonies, so I really appreciated the singing much more so than I ever noticed on the record.
The band played many tracks from Furr, but also played a lot of tracks that I was unfamiliar with. The lead singer did a rousing acoustic version of the western classic "Cocaine Blues," much to the delight of the older folks in the crowd (like me). My favorite track from Furr, "Not Your Lover," was beautiful, with just piano and vocal harmony. The crowd went nuts when they player their title track. Overall, a great show by some very talented musicians.
I think they really nailed this song last night:
Black River Killer.mp3
Listen to the killer synth part, which the chatty, red-head multi-instrumentalist said they stole from Dr. Dre.
Buy: Furr (2008)
They have more downloads on their website, plus they have three live sessions available for free download on Daytrotter from 2007, February 2008, and September 2008.
Not to take away from Blitzen Trapper's performance, but I have had it with hipsters. I understand that Blitzen Trapper is an "it" band right now, but I am convinced that most of the people at the show last night were there just to be seen or to tell their friends that they were there. They only song anyone knew was "Furr," which is fine, but how about shutting the fuck up so the rest of us can hear the rest of the show? Chat, chat, chat, yell, yell, tip-over-because-you-are-wasted-on-Labatt 50 (the PBR of Canada), blah, blah, blah. Let's leave the Blackberries and iPhones in our pockets during the show, OK? There is no need to text your friends about which after-hours club to meet at during the performance. I actually heard once girl yell, "I don't know any of these songs! I only listen to the one song over and over again!" I nearly slapped her. Another good comment, "Oh my god it is so hot in here!" Yes, it was super hot, but it doesn't help that you are wearing a tweed jacket, a sweater vest, and a toque. I know I sound old and crotchety (tell me something I don't know), but please people, learn some concert etiquette or stay home!