Being that I’m a big fan of Blitzen Trapper and hadn’t seen them live for about a year and a half, my CHBP experience was based around seeing the best freak-folk band PDX has to offer. In short, they didn’t disappoint.
They opened with their usual clash-and-clatter freakout, then segued right into “God and Suicide,” one of the highlights from their 2008 breakthrough record Furr. With a heavy dose of new material to play around with, the set suffered a bit early on as the crowd warmed up to the still mostly unfamiliar tunes. “Love and Hate” was a highlight, however, thanks to an added hard rock crunch and stoned-out outro jam.
A middle portion of acoustic songs, which could have derailed the momentum at dusk, actually turned into the most crowdpleasing part of the show. “Lady In the Water” was much more beautiful live, and the audience especially appreciated “Furr,” BP’s biggest hit to date, and showed it by clapping along as it hit the first chorus.
The wild-and-woolly six-piece brought it all back around with the excellent Allmans-esque guitars “Big Black Bird,” from last year’s Black River Killer EP, and “Wild Mountain Nation,” the standout and title track from their 2007 record.
In the time since I’d last seen BP, they’ve grown much more accustomed to the stage, and have become a band that can be entertaining not just with its superior songs, but also with how they play them. And now that it’s over, I don’t know what’s a better sound — when the band delivers its trademark three-part harmonies, or when they whip out their axes for ear-bending twin guitar leads. Either way, we’re in good hands. This is a band for the past, the present, and the future.
Blitzen Trapper @ CHBP 2010 photo by Jason Tang