How Fleet Foxes Robbed My Ability to Speak
It is with great embarrassment that I admit to having only been listening to Fleet Foxes for one year. Yes folks, that’s right — one rotation around the sun. I owe a great debt to Mr. Vincent Moon for filming the band on a trip to Paris in 2008. That Take Away Show basically changed my life. From the moment the harmonies reached my ears, I was hooked, and they were my favorite band in less than 10 minutes. Suffice to say, I yearned to experience their live show.
Unfortunately, it caused me a lot more grief than I had expected in order to procure tickets to one of their shows. My efforts began back in April after I had learned of their May performances in Seattle. School, being what it is, threw a monkey wrench into that plan (damn weekdays). It was doubly disappointing since my ears had just been graced by their new album thanks to Radio Free Sodo. However, hope was renewed when the band released their autumn tour dates. First on the docket, two shows at the Paramount Theater.
I purchased tickets to the September 6th show, treating my sister and brother-in-law to the experience as well. I arrived in Seattle via the North Cascades Highway, a hopelessly beautiful but excruciating long drive, just in time to head downtown from my sister’s apartment in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. At this point, I had to temper my excitement. If I had not, I’m sure my bladder control would have deserted me. Or I guess my exceedingly high expectations would later cause disappointment, but I needn’t have worried.
Now, the Paramount itself is extremely impressive in its opulence and grandeur. I could have gone there on any other day and been enraptured by the architecture inside the theater. I felt under dressed for the setting, but that would mean everybody else in attendance was too. As I climbed up to my seat, my anticipation was almost palpable, my heart was palpitating, and other such nonsensical happenings… happened. I think you get the picture.
The Walkmen started the evening off with a fantastic set, and I highly recommend you go see them if you get the chance. They are wonderful live, but (plot twist) they aren’t the band I’m writing about. Fleet Foxes took the stage and led off their set with The Plains/Bitter Dancer. My face was stuck in a position somewhere between stupid smile and jaw on the floor. It would stay that way until I made my way back to the car after the show. I struggle to find the words to describe their music as it surrounded me in theater. Something about it disables the language function in my brain. Predictably, my full cognitive ability was restored upon the end of their set, which ended with an impassioned rendition of Grown Ocean that broke at least one guitar string. Fortunately for me, but temporarily unfortunate for my IQ, Robin Pecknold walked back on stage and sang a brand new solo song he had just written to begin the encore. He belted out Oliver James (that doesn’t sound violent) after that, and then the full band finished with Blue Ridge Mountains and Helplessness Blues.
Of all the songs the Foxes performed, Mykonos stood out the most to me. It is a hauntingly beautiful tune to begin with, but the harmonies of that song live put me in a dumbstruck trance. It truly is indescribable. Along with the incredible music, the projections and lighting done for the show fit the music perfectly and gave the eyes something to do while the rest of your brain’s abilities remain paralyzed by the music. And to top it all off, the guys are hilarious. There were more than a few times when I had to rein in my laughter. Hopefully the band stays together for a long time, but if not, I eagerly await the day I can hear Robin Pecknold & the Gryffindor All-Stars play at the Emerald Queen Casino.