:: Fleet Foxes ::
:: Fillmore Auditorium :: July 21 ::
By Zack Sulsky
Fleet Foxes’ long-awaited second album, Helplessness Blues (released this May), did more than avoid a sophomore slump – it brought their already nuanced sound to new levels of sophistication without sacrificing any of their cross-genre accessibility. For their July 21st show at the Fillmore, they chose a crowd-pleasing, if predictable, set including the lion’s share of Helplessness Blues, as well as a few choice singles and fan favorites from earlier releases, including a lively version of their first breakout hit, “White Winter Hymnal,” which earned perhaps the largest ovation from an ever-enthusiastic crowd. Acting with a humility befitting a group of relative newcomers, they kept the banter to a minimum, but showed no reservations in their performance.
Showcasing pitch-perfect vocal harmonies on nearly every song, Fleet Foxes offered a reminder that the combination of acoustic instruments and human voices has a uniquely raw power. Every member of the six-piece showed their versatility, each playing several instruments, ranging from guitar and bass to mandolin and flute, even including bass clarinet during an experimental moment in the epic “The Shrine/An Argument.” The only constants throughout were frontman Robin Pecknold’s acoustic guitar and distinctive voice. He showed himself to be a formidable singer, his sometimes-whispering and sometimes-keening tenor rising high above the harmonic tapestry. But certainly the most impressive aspect of the show was in the band’s ability to make drastic shifts in dynamics within the space of a few seconds.
Although it would have been nice to hear them depart a bit more from recorded versions of their songs, Fleet Foxes put on an excellent show, proving the many accolades they have received over the last few years to be well-deserved.