Some bands make it look too easy.
There are moments in a Fleet Foxes concert where you have to remind yourself that all those scenic harmonies are coming from human voices, that those rhythms are tenuous — only as steady as the hands of the six bearded heads bobbing in front of you on stage.
When it was all said and done, Seattle’s gift to the indie-folk wave delivered almost two hours of music, including a four-song encore at Masonic Auditorium last night. After a bit of a slow start (a harmonic intro followed by “The Plains/Bitter Dancer”), things picked up considerably with “Mykonos,” the take-away track from 2008’s Sun Giant EP.
Even though the set was heavy on songs from this year’s Helplessness Blues, the nearly 20 songs the band played last night spanned both albums and covered fan favorites like “Sim Sala Bim,” “Montezuma,” “Lorelai,” and “Grown Ocean” from the new record, as well as “Your Protector,” “White Winter Hymnal,” and the oft-requested “Blue Ridge Mountains” from the debut.
The band was as gracious as the audience was enthusiastic, and it’s no surprise to anyone who has ever seen a show at Masonic Auditorium that it was the perfect venue for the Foxes’ Cleveland debut.
Frontman Robin Pecknold’s voice floated above our heads gracefully and softly on “Blue Spotted Tail” and knocked us over in the fuller moments of “Ragged Wood” and the closing “Helplessness Blues.” Scenic harmonies and soaring bridges filled up the theater and hipsters nodded their heads alongside their parents.
But when it’s all said and done, what surprises people about the Fleet Foxes is their humility. After releasing two critically acclaimed records and developing a major international following, they still speak softly onstage.
“Thank you” was the phrase Pecknold uttered the most onstage, often repeating it twice, three times, with a pause and a tenor of genuine sincerity. And even though they’re the most important indie-folk group on the scene, they still applaud dancing audience members in the last row.
There’s always hesitation from band members about the future of the band, but after a show like the one they gave Cleveland last night, fans should rest assured. Fleet Foxes love making music, and it shows. —Lydia Munnell
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