Secondhand Blitzen Trapper High – A Concert Review

“If I seem relaxed, it’s because
you can’t really walk through the dressing room without getting a secondhand
high. That ‘secondhand Blitzen Trapper high’,” explained Phoebe Bridges, the
opener for Blitzen Trapper at the Neptune, midway through her set. 

And what a
set it was. I had only heard two of her songs before, so I wasn’t sure what to
expect. But her acoustic folk sound, phenomenal voice, and sweetly depressing
lyrics blew me away. Whether it was playing a song off her Killer 7”, or the best rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On
Fire” I’ve ever heard, she nailed it. The $18 ticket price would have been
worth it if she were the only performance. If you’re looking for some good
acoustic music, definitely check her out. She also has silver hair, making her
look kinda like Daenerys Targaryen, so that’s a plus.

Then came
Blitzen Trapper, Portland’s slice of musical excellence. If you aren’t
familiar, check out my rundown of the band here. They opened with “Rock and
Roll (Was Made For You)”, playing it much louder, faster, and heavier than the
album version. This was a trend that continued throughout the show, making
every track sound noticeably more rock-ish than I was used to. But it sure did
sound good. The second song played, “Fletcher”, is my personal favorite and the
“grunge” that the song was performed with was a pleasant surprise. It was
somehow better than the album version, which I didn’t think was possible.
Blitzen Trapper really turns it up to 11 when they perform.

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I’m not
going to bore you with their entire set list that night (it was quite long),
but I will say that nearly every song was highlighted by a guitar solo from the
main vocalist and guitar, Eric Earley. These are rare on their recorded music,
making the live performance a treat for fans. The band was really into the
show, and it was apparent by their superb playing and high energy. But the real
highlight of the entire show was the coolest version of The Beatles’ “Come
Together” that has ever graced my ears. The song had an almost bluesy tone to
it, while mixing in Blitzen Trapper’s strange country style. Blitzen Trapper,
if you’re reading this, record a cover of that version right this instant.

Finishing
their official set list was “Furr”, “Black River Killer”, and “All Across This
Land”. The latter two tracks, which are from an old album, were performed with
a style more akin to that of their new album, leaving me with an appreciation
of their ever-evolving sound. They don’t sound exactly like they used to, but
they don’t sound too different, either. Their sound doesn’t seem to want to
settle, and that’s okay with me.

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The
obligatory encore was started off with a great cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I
Needed You”, surprising the drunk man next to me so much that I had to duck to
avoid his fist-pumps. They played quite the long encore, even including another
The Beatles song, “You Never Give Me Your Money”. This time, I was the one
doing the fist-pumps.

Despite the
intoxicated Melissa McCarthy-lookalike next to me invading my personal space a
few too many times, I loved the show. My only complaint about the band is that
they had little stage presence. They didn’t really talk to the crowd much, which
was balanced out by allowing more music to be played. If their music didn’t
blow me out of the water, I would have been mildly disappointed. Luckily, they
sounded better than I even expected. If you have a chance to see them live, do
it. Also, Rainn Wilson wasn’t there. Real bummer.

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Niles Kyholm



Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Seaweed, Flannel, and Coffee Beans – A Blitzen Trapper Artist Spotlight

Imagine you’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Only, instead of jelly, you’re putting alternative country music on it. And
instead of peanut butter, you’re smearing some groove rock. And instead of
bread, you’re building your sandwich upon the very essence of Portland.

Such is the recipe for making Blitzen Trapper, one of
Portland’s finest musical offerings and Rainn Wilson’s favorite band. Originally called
Garmonbozia, this agglomeration of musical geniuses utilizes a range of genres
to create a sound like no other. Every album offers something a little
different, with the older albums experimenting more than the newer albums.
Their sound seems to have settled on a country groove rock that is just wonderful.

If you want to start listening to Blitzen Trapper, and you
should, I suggest you listen to several of their songs. Because their sound can
vary quite a bit between songs, going from standard folk on one track to groovy country
rock on another, one song just won’t do. I’ll give you a few songs that are good examples of their music, but there are many more that you should check out. 

The song “Black River Killer”, off their album, Furr, is one of their most popular songs. This is the song that got me
hooked on phonics Blitzen Trapper. The folky guitar combined with the
chill drum beat caught my ear faster than a barefoot jackrabbit on a hot greasy
griddle in the middle of August. If a cowboys inner demons had a sound, this would be it. 

Gold for Bread”, also off Furr, is a great introduction into their more experimental sounds,
as well their rock influences that are prevalent throughout their work. A fun
drinking game with Blitzen Trapper is to take a drink every time they sing a
lyric that you don’t understand. I’m not responsible for any liver damage that may occur. If anyone can explain the lyrics to this one to me, please do. 

Wild Mountain Nation” is the title track to the album that
first really hit it big for them. This song has a Grateful Dead vibe, and was
ranked the 98th best track of 2007 by Rolling Stone. Why it wasn’t
number one is a mystery to me. “Roc Boys” by Jay-Z was ranked number one; an
inferior track, in my mind.

If you liked this music, Blitzen Trapper has a show coming up at The Neptune on November 19 that you should definitely go to. If you see me there, be sure to ask for my
autograph.  

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Niles Kyholm



Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!