26 February 2009

Blitzen Trapper, Alela Diane @ Bug Jar

"This is our first time in Rochester...EVER." And later, "We like this place." So said Blitzen Trapper. Never been here, thanks for your support, hey, this place ain't too shabby...it's a common theme among bands I've seen here recently. I'm starting to think it might be backhanded, like, hey, this place isn't the shitstorm we expected, whoa.

I think I read too many music blogs. Because if you read what I read than you might think that Blitzen Trapper is HUGE. I thought the Bug Jar would be too small for them. It was sold out, but it didn't sell out until that day, and it really wasn't all that crowded, comfortably crowded at least where I was.

And then they went and got outplayed by their opener. No fault of their own, the opener, Alela Diane, was superb. She and her band, which included a backup singer, bass player, drummer, and father (on guitar & mando), wove musical tapestries, bereft of strong melodies, but oozing in simple complex beauty. Each sound built intertwined with every other sound into a tight blanket of sound that just sounded perfect together, like it was coming from one thing altogether. It's a folksy twangy acoustic sound, electrified, literally and figuratively. Other than Alela's heavenly voice, the drumming really stood out to me. This type of music doesn't usually lend itself to noticeably great drumming, which just made it all the more noticable. Heavy reliance on mallets, and minimal use of cymbals created a nice low softness for many of the songs, and given the loose atypical song structure the beat was given more room to flourish and develop and experiment outside the boundaries of the beat. Really sounded good. Speaking of sounding good, the sound was as good as I have ever heard in that room. Very well-mixed and at a perfect volume.

Then Blitzen Trapper came on and mucked it all up, in a good way. Loud (LOUD) and fuzzy. I did enjoy Alela's set more, but saying she outplayed Blitzen Trapper is just not true. I did not expect their music to warrant 3 keyboards on stage, but there they were. Guess those help when your music spans the large gap connecting Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. These guys, beautiful three-part harmonies and all, can mix it up with the best of them. Which is something I seek out in my music, and appreciate to no end, but for some reason, it was somewhat jarring the way they presented their variety. They seem to be the type of band that once you "get it" your like for them begets your love for them on repeated and repeated listenings. In other words, I am not super familiar with their music, but I have a feeling the more I knew their music the more I would enjoy their show, the variety would make more sense and not feel all over the place. Here's to hoping they really did enjoy their time in Rochester and will be coming back soon, after I've had more time to absorb their music.

BTW, they may just have the greatest taping policy ever.
The band wanted me to let you know that BT is officially trade-friendly, and would love to encourage people to share their live recordings. The band would prefer that all tapings include a mix of board and crowd. Thanks!
Unfortunately it's a policy that is getting sorely underused with only 2 shows up at LMA. There was a taper there so hopefully a recording surfaces at some point. I will link to it here if/when I find it.

UPDATE: Recording has surfaced on LMA. Download here.


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Liffy said...

Thanks for the compliments!