Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fleet Foxes Sell Out?

Shuffling aimlessly on stage as they prepared for last night’s jammed, sweltering show at Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church did not prepare the audience for the exacting precision of the angelic, often four-part harmonies that were the clear stars of Seattle’s Fleet Foxes magical, mystical, suffocating (did I mention it was sweltering) campfire chorale hoedown.

The band seems to draw from a wellspring of influences, from Brother era Beach Boys to a less reverbed Jim James, from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Crosby by himself (I believe you, Feeney), from traditional English folk to barbershop quartets, from the current freak folks to the psych pop of The Zombies and a huge helping of southern California soft rock (Bread, America, Mamas and Papas). Apparently not an influence – Band of Horses.

Starting the show with the gorgeous opening a capella moments of the stunner “Sun Giant” (the title track of their debut EP) and it’s first line “What a life I lead in the summer”, it was a definite signal that Sub Pop’s latest uber-buzz band was going to treat the assembled punk rockers, pasty faced wallflowers and scattered geezers to an unusual show, and the church’s hot-house basement was the perfect setting.

Clearly the band was thrilled with the rapturous reception and frequently gave thanks to the crowd, occasionally tossing out bottles of water from the stage or just dousing the kids up front with the same holy water. They asked that one of the teetering ceiling fans be turned off and were quickly hooted down by the delirious mass who decided decapitation by ceiling fan was preferable to the room temperature edging up by even one degree. (Seriously, it was hot.)

The highlights were many – including the “hard-to-believe-they-pulled-it-off-live” voices in the round of the haunting, heart stopping “White Winter Hymnal”, the final encore of the grief stricken confessional of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”, the jangly, Paul McCartney cribbing (“Whoa my love, Whoa my love, Whoa my love, Whoa…”) of “English House” and a solo turn by lead singer on “Oliver James” that was preceded by an unlikely yet spellbinding cover of “Crayon Angels” by 70’s tragic folkie Judee Sill. These guys know their shit.

So did the Fleet Foxes sell out? Prompted by a fan’s request that pleaded “Don’t ever, ever sell out”, singer Pecknold engaged the interloper in a short dialogue. When he asked the young cub what selling out was, the response was “selling thousands and thousands of records”. Pecknold parried that that was “selling, not selling out… so define selling out”. The fan quickly shot back “Don’t be Band of Horses!”. Pecknold just as quickly quipped “Don’t worry, we won’t”.

So there it is – sold out, but not sell outs. And most likely owners of the most talked about, most startling, most accomplished debut of 2008.

Fleet Foxes - Oliver James mp3

Fleet Foxes - Sun Giant mp3


don said...

"Don't sell out" = "Don't make as much money as I do at my boring job" ?

"Don't sell out" = "Forever worry about where your next meal is coming from" ?

Anyway, nice review Teek and folks can stream FF's show from the night before in DC on NPR's All Songs Considered web-site.

Anonymous said...

nice review! i caught them last night in new york--it was sold out, but i think is going to have videos of the whole set up on their site.

robin was kind of sick but still was phenomenal.

there are some good pics from the show here:

wingy said...

i agree, don. the whole selling out thing is kind of ridiculous. i'd rather the fleet foxes get heard by a wider audience.

pcmr4g said...

Where can I find the spreadsheet?