Pecknold’s aggravated immune system was the only thing suffering, as they continued song after song to dazzle every listener new and old.
Many albums, and sometimes even artists, lend themselves to seasonal listening. It’s easy to envision listening to the bearded, layered harmonies of Fleet Foxes cozied up to a fire, plaid blankets abound and drinking a cup of…something warm (perhaps with the slightest hint of whiskey, even). However, on one of St. Louis’ hottest nights this year, Fleet Foxes managed to warm the hearts of a sold out crowd under the guise of being the coolest and most “chill” acts to hit The Pageant as of late. This was Fleet Foxes first show in St. Louis in which they were headlining and proved their worth to each of the 2,000+ sets of ears in house. Since last visiting St. Louis in 2008 when they opened for Death Cab for Cutie, also the year they released their first, self-titled LP, they relentlessly toured, supported numerous large bands and (recently) released their second album Helplessness Blues.
Instead of the awkward amble out on stage and even more bumbling introduction, Fleet Foxes took the stage with a light and cool attitude as they geared up and the crowd started to rumble and cheer in waves, fitting as the opener was the sforzando (that would be a song full of ups and downs, both in intensity and volume) heavy “The Cascades”. The song was smartly used as a hook for both the band and the audience – a great song for the sextet to flex their musical muscles and rein in the attention of the crowd. And after one song the crowd would buy everything Fleet Foxes was selling. The show continued with a vivacious force as “Grown Ocean” continued to propel the show forward.
Little banter was had by the band despite being held to rock-star sell out show standards; however singer Robin Pecknold was in need of some over the counter allergy relief. “Anybody have some allergy medicine? Any Claritin users in the house?” doesn’t typically garner screams of “I love your ass” or cheering from most crowds but tonight was an exception. Luckily, Pecknold’s aggravated immune system was the only thing suffering, as they continued song after song to dazzle every listener new and old. Fleet Foxes did treat their older listeners more through the second half of their set, though and “Mykonos” was where they kicked off and magic was in the air. So much rock magic was released through the lush harmonies, in fact, that one singular piece of confetti from the last Flaming Lips show twinkled in the lights and floated down upon the crowd. “Winter White Hymnal” felt like a crowded yet intimate, jovial camp-fire sing along even inside the dimly lit and excessively air conditioned house.
Encores aren’t really a surprise to the seasoned show-goer, though one’s heart is a bit anxious upon seeing a great live band leave the stage to roars from the audience. After “Blue Ridge Mountains” anxiety hung in the air as lofty as those sweet three-part layered harmonies, random flute lines and bassoon squawks, mandolin/fiddle/stand-up bass lines; the crowd went wild and the balcony attendants rose out of their seats hungry for more. Fans were greeted and surprised by Pecknold donning his guitar, alone, to belt out a solo version of “Oliver James”. A song already rife with emotion was intensified by his solitude and the use of his guitar as a percussive device. The audience was quick to connect with this affectionate emotion and provided percussion on their own, in the form of claps – until the rhythm felt a bit awkward and Pecknold hit his guitar harder to get everyone back on the same track. The evening came to its rightful close with “Helplessness Blues” to give the audience one last glimpse of the stately harmonies and commanding musicianship that is Fleet Foxes.
Originally published at Playback:STL July 25, 2011.