fleet foxes

Interview: Getting to know the real Father John Misty

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This article was written by special contributor Rob Duffy

When Josh Tillman abruptly quit Fleet Foxes after spending the better part of three years behind the drum kit for one of the world’s most critically-acclaimed biggest bands, most people assumed he would soldier on with his career as a bearded, folkie solo artist. And, possibly, so did he: a brief blog post written by Tillman about the departure contained the memorable phrase,”Back into the gaping maw of obscurity I go.”

But that blog didn’t appear under the familiar name of J. Tillman. It marked the conception of the singer’s curious, possibly religious, eerily cult leader-esque new moniker Father John Misty, and it would take a few months before we would all be privy to his gospel.

To the viewing public, the evening of May 1, 2012 might well have been Father John’s immaculate conception. For Father John Misty’s mesmerizing rendition of “Only Son of a Ladiesman” on David Letterman, Tillman arrived clad in a stylishly minimalistic white button-down, clean-shaven, with his trademark lengthy locks shorn into a sleek, wavy look. More surprising, the breezy, vamping moves Tillman showed off were a revelation. It revealed a cleverly re-tooled frontman, one who’s able to reimagine the current golden-voiced woodsy, indie-folk trend with a touch of good old-fashioned Southern California glamour.

If the Letterman performance was Tillman’s rebirth, his live show is now a celebration of a life that’s never seemed better than it is inside this new skin. From his unhinged dance moves to his dry-witted stage banter, Tillman suddenly appears at home onstage in a way we’ve never seen during his decade of touring. And it’s no surprise that “Only Son of a Ladiesman” marks each evening’s highlight. The song is not just Tillman’s finest new creation, it’s a staggeringly evocative folk-rock anthem.

Tillman’s new persona isn’t the most dramatic alter ego the music world has gotten to know in the last year or two (that belongs to Lana Del Rey), but the undeniable success of his new finds him doing the exact opposite of what Del Rey did—instead of packaging himself up for mass consumption, he’s instead peeling away layers, revealing the humanity, the fallibility, even the humour, of the man once buried within.

J.Tillman is most definitely born again, but he doesn’t seem to have discovered religion. In this interview, Tillman reveals that as Father John Misty, what he’s found is arguably even more valuable: a true sense of himself.

As of 2011, you were touring as the drummer of Fleet Foxes. You were a functioning cog in one of the best bands in the world. What made you decide to leave the band and work as a solo artist once again? 

It was really just the end of that album cycle, and I just [couldn’t] wait around however long for the Bat Phone to ring. I just wanted to be doing this stuff. I believe in my shit, and I want to do it with dignity. Some of the language around this thing kind of makes my skin crawl. The, like, “side project, solo project” whatever. I didn’t want that to be the context for this thing.

Does that language happen as a result of you being in Fleet Foxes? 

It’s just groupthink. That shit is just plug and play. I don’t want to get too hung up on the language around it, that was just an example. Being in a band of Fleet Foxes’ calibre takes a lot of time, and anybody who’s creative can relate to that. Time spent on something is, in our minds, indicative of belief in it. And if you’re just leaving your own thing on the margins, it’s kind of indicative of a lack of belief in it. At least to me, it’s very simple to me.

So the album cycle ends, and you decide to go back to doing your own thing. Why the new name? 

That was a choice I had to make a year ago when I started sending it around. Prior to that, when I’m writing songs, I’m not thinking, “What’s this called?” That is the last item to address. I had all these demos, it might have just been something as civilian as I had them all in my iTunes, and I was like, “This isn’t really the J. Tillman thing.” I had kind of emotionally disconnected from that particular form of expression. If I had just picked up the guitar at age 29 and made this album, I probably would have just called it Josh Tillman. But I had defamed my name. I had attached my name to this alter ego that I couldn’t relate to anymore.

And also it was kind of exciting: I had never gotten to choose a name before, and so I just kind of went with my instincts, which are just kind of absurdist. I was really excited, because I’d always left that aspect of my personality out of my music, because I was young and vain and wanted to be taken seriously, and I didn’t consider that aspect of my personality to be creatively valid, which is just garden-variety self-loathing.

But at some point within the last few years, I realized: There’s this thing you do, a way of thinking, a way of expressing myself, a form of communication. The J. Tillman thing became this really big installation performance piece in my life, that I had built my whole life around, and my identity, and how I regarded myself, and everything. And I wanted to eliminate that filter. I didn’t want there to be any filter. So the name thing, it’s just a bit of a red herring. I like it phonetically, I like it aesthetically, it’s kind of confusing.

Yeah it is. 

It is confusing! Because it smacks of an alter-ego. But I came to this realization, this J Tillman thing, that’s the alter-ego! [I] don’t really relate to this guy. But as time went by, I had a harder and harder time answering for him. I got really exhausted from sitting down to write songs and wanting to say certain things, and having to ask myself, like, is this a J Tillman song? Does this fit?

And a couple times, on my records like “James Blues,” there was this song on this album Bansalanda Territory Blues that I made, which was the first glimmer of my sense of humour and my real sensibilities fighting their way to the surface. That was really gratifying. But it was a few more years before I could really go whole hog with it.

How did you settle on Father John Misty? There seems to be a lot tied up in there. There’s a religious element. Some people have called it a “faux cult leader” thing… 

I could break it down for you, but the words would die in the air in front of me. But the only part I will explain is I thought it was really funny how similar John is to my own name. And also how standard it sounds. Like, John. It’s such a, like, name-y name. That’s kind of what I liked about it. That’s something I’m addressing on the album: What’s the nature of identity? Juxtaposing these songs that are pretty explicitly, obviously about me. You can’t listen to this album and not hear Josh Tillman, or what you have to presume is Josh Tillman. And then you’re left with this very confusing prospect of like, well why is it called [Father John Misty] then? Hopefully, that line of thinking goes out to, “Well, does it matter?” As long as you get to that place, the magic trick is performed.

So yeah, I could have called it a prepositional phrase or something, but is interesting, like, people don’t go around asking St. Vincent if she’s a saint, or if she’s religious. It really is just the branding thing. You used to go by your name, and now you go by this. Why did that happen?

But people seem to freak out a bit when that happens. The idea of reinventing yourself. Look at Lana Del Rey, for example… 

I don’t think that my thing smacks of….I stand by my back catalogue and I know why I made it. I understand me. The creative pursuit, it’s always predicated on destruction. Like, even in the physical world, nothing new gets made without something dying first. I think very symbolically, and very mythologically, and there was something really thrilling about taking this fucking thing that was my whole life, like, 10 years of my life, this thing was I was banging my head against the wall, going on tour, subjecting myself to criticism and ridicule, and apathy, and was just fighting for this thing. There was something really exciting about taking it and putting it on the altar and plunging a knife into its chest and, just like, drinking its blood! You know? It was more exciting than like, “Weekend With Bernie,” this corpse, carrying it around with me, like, “This thing’s still alive, right?!” That’s thrilling. It is really thrilling.

How liberated did you feel when you did that? 

I felt liberated! I had some really formative experiences within the last couple years, one of which was quitting Fleet Foxes. That whole thing was me staring in the face the addiction to this one escapist fantasy I had in my 20s, which was that if I was a working musician, I would be happy. I got to stare that in the face and realize, it’s not circumstance that makes you happy. It’s what you fucking do.

I was really ashamed and embarrassed for a long time about how unhappy I was in a situation that in my mind, any of my contemporaries would have loved to have been there. But my contemporaries are not me. They’re not Josh Tillman. Actually admitting that was really liberating. And just being like, “Well, now it’s simple.”

And even the “happy” thing. The language around this whole thing is pretty problematic and inadequate. There is satisfaction that is self-perpetuating in this line of work for me. Doing this gives me more motivation to do more. Whereas, with Fleet Foxes, I was constantly trying to catch up with the satisfaction. It took energy away from me, as opposed to giving me more energy to do more things.

Was is it the songwriting that you missed? The simple idea of not having the time and energy to make your own music? 

I was still making albums. Any time I wasn’t on tour with those guys, I was on tour by myself. But it really was this thing that was in me, like, “You made a decision to put your own writing on the sidelines.” And that’s not really me. All of my decisions that I’ve made in my life, I’ve made really extreme decisions in my life to facilitate a creative set of circumstances. But just because you’re playing in a band doesn’t mean you’re being creative. I wasn’t being creative. I was very passive. I was just watching this thing happen to me. I didn’t start that band. I didn’t write those songs. I was a hired gun. I really was. In the studio on that second album, I barely did anything. I did a week of drum tracking, I didn’t know any of the songs, we hadn’t really rehearsed or practiced anything. I just came in more or less blindfolded and played along, and was more or less done. That’s just not very satisfying for me.

I feel like there’s kind of this misconception, and it’s actually kind of a good one, because the mythology of the rock band persists. People think, whether they’re really conscious of it or not, what they like about bands is that they’re the Monkees or something. They, like, live together, and hang out, and they all write the songs, and when they’re making the albums, they’re all standing around in a circle recording them together, and writing their own parts, and whatever. It’s just not the case. That is why people are confused. “How could you leave this thing?” There was barely a thing for me to leave!

It really was a symbolic decision. It was just like, okay, I did this thing, I don’t like it, I’m gonna do something else. It would have been really easy for me to sit back and do a year of touring and just kind of go through the motions, but that’s not me.

This is another symbolic thing, but does the haircut come along with that? The idea of rebirth? Shedding your former self? 

See, that has nothing to do with Fleet Foxes. When I first moved to Seattle, I had long hair and a beard. This was the early aughts, and everybody was doing this leather jacket, dyed black hair, everybody wanted to be The Strokes, this sexy rocker thing. I had this totally different… People were freaked out by me. People would call me a hippie with derision.

I’ll get really candid with you: I’m, like, a handsome…person, you know? And for a long time I really didn’t like…I don’t like…the way that good-looking people get treated. And so I masked this thing with this huge beard, and long hair, and dressing like a homeless person. It was all tied up in this self-loathing thing of, “I don’t like what I am. I don’t like my sense of humour. I don’t like my ability to charm people. I don’t like my traditional looks. I don’t like any of it.”

So I set out on this 10-year thing of subverting what I perceived to be the easy assumptions about me. People think I’m a funny person? Cool, I’m gonna go ahead and put out the most miserable fucking music you’ve ever heard. And it was all about me. Ultimately that’s vanity, that’s someone thinking way too hard about themselves. And so, just getting older, getting to a place where it’s like, “Well, fuck man, I’m me. I don’t want to fight it anymore.” I just want to use it to the best of my ability.

And also, with the hair-cutting thing, that girl Emma in the [“Nancy From Now On”] video is my girlfriend. I’m in love with her. I really wanted to explore this idea of the submission of love. Having her take my vanity. Because I was convinced that once that hair came off, I was gonna look like a total dork.

Yeah, a total dork GQ model. 

I was just convinced that once that hair came off, I was really gonna have to fight for…something, I don’t know. I wanted to explore the submission of love, just being like, I’m giving you my vanity. Once I realized that my hair, and the beard and all that shit was ultimately about vanity and contrarianism and protecting myself, and all that, I was like, “This person makes me feel so valued, and I want her to do it.”

She cut it off, and it was amazing. It was super-fun. And in the video, I’m laughing. I was expecting for it to be this cathartic, serious…I was expecting to break down. And I was laughing my ass off! Like, “I’m letting this whole thing go!”

But of course, the easy interpretation is, “He’s not in Fleet Foxes anymore! He’s shedding his Fleet Foxy image!” Dude, I was asked to be in that band 80% because I was a long-haired, bearded, you know what I mean?

It sounds like there was some sort of Samson-esque thing in you. Like you were scared you’d lose your powers or something. 

Oh yeah! I was convinced for a few days afterwards that I had lost my ability to be funny. I felt like that was the first thing to go. But I’m into that stuff—not in a magical way, but it was really strange, just…  Going out, having looked a certain way for 10 years, going out, getting a coffee, and all of sudden people are treating me like if they fuck up my order I’m gonna freak out on them. Like an angry white male. Or women being like, “Aghhhh!!!” as I’m saying the weirdest shit imaginable.

And I was just like, “Fuck, there’s no foil anymore!” I used to really enjoy looking a certain way and then opening my mouth and having people say, “You don’t sound like a hippie! You don’t sound like, ‘Heyyyy maaaaaan…’”

That’s not me at all. But I’m very adaptive. It’s been fun. I had this real negative identity complex for a long time, where it was just like, “I am the aggregation of all the things I’m not.” That was really limiting, and kind of depressing, ultimately.

But now, I’m conducting these shows, and the creative things. It’s really the revenge of the 8 year old me. The me, pre-distortions. I feel really child-like now, I feel really good.

How are you adjusting to life as more of a leading man? 

It’s easy! In my 20s, I was addicted to the mythology of “the songwriter.” When I was 21, I went on tour with Damien Jurado and Richard Buckner, guys who I worshipped. And I’m using that word very deliberately: I worshipped them. I wanted to be that. So I kind of put on this pretense. I thought the best I could be was an archetype. And your success was how close to that archetype as you could get. It was all about developing credibility in terms of the parameters of the archetype. I thought, “People can’t see the real me, it will undermine my credibility as this thing, this tortured songwriter. It was all very romantic.

I have no interest in that now, I don’t relate to it anymore. I don’t want to be that thing. Once I pulled my finger out of that dam, that’s where you see the dancing, joking guy. I don’t have to try to do that!

Gary’s Pests vs. Bests of 2011.

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Year End Reviews | 1 Comment

Baltimore – Every couple of years, like slides in a powerpoint presentation, I like to change the backdrop. But I have always struggled with first years. By that I refer to my relationships with changes in scenery rather than with hormone-effervescing fresh-women (to be politically correct as George Carlin suggested). I am constantly, and embarrassingly, surprised each time how woefully unprepared I still am. Incidentally, 2011 has also been a tumultuous year on many fronts. So with everything concerned, I present to you my Pests vs. Bests of 2011 – both bad and good things that have been on my mind – but you can decide which way they lean.

The Occupy movement Vs. Tea party movement

Yes, I’m starting this list in the hot seat. And I’m even going to spare the whole Arab Spring phenomenon and the Debt crises in every other country. For those of you who have not read the New Yorker article about the history and early evolution of the Occupy movement, you should. For those extraterrestrial readers who immigrated in November, the Occupy movement is a protest against economic and social injustice and inequality. Yes, it was initiated by Canadians. No, it does not work. Not only do I think it’s an exercise in futility, but when coupled with very imposing stage props such as failing economies and rampant unemployment, it is also the ultimate expression of collective social hypocrisy and irresponsibility. It is an idea that people who despises “The System” and demand change should “occupy” themselves with inaction, in various prominent locations around the world. Make no mistake, every one of these protesters came from the system, and wants back into it when it’s renovated with bells-and-whistles, just for them (OK save maybe the hobos whose dwellings were invaded). The only problem – they don’t know how. It thus became a hippie perversion of a child’s temper tantrum. The entire ordeal is self-contradictory. If any of these people had the courage to become independent of the 9-5 job economies they criticize, they would be faced with innumerable options against sitting in a park, ordering pizza for the police. The true, unemployed 99%-ner may choose to help out at the local emergency/fire stations, during the Snowpocalypse earlier this year. If we’re talking about a selfish 99%-ner, use the hard-earned money that he/she no longer believes in to learn a skill/instrument, or turn capitalist and run a pizza delivery business for the other Occupiers. The intellectually-wealthy-yet-financially-deprived may sift through SETI’s data, work on protein/nucleic acid folding, write code to mine genomic/proteomic databases, restructure a budget proposal, pour over literature to ensure the originality of one’s manifesto, all from the comfort of home or public libraries. Even photoshoping officer pepper spray is more effective/productive. Standing behind a banner at a designated location is recreation, not a form of political dialogue, and the public awareness raised is as empty as an election promise until direct public action on the issue is marshaled (ex. changing the way the entire office works with an arrogant 1% boss could be a start.) Without aims, without consensus, and with zero organization, Occupy is a flash mob that quickly evolves back into the dominant form of government familiar to the people involved. Imbibed with little original thought, is it any wonder why nothing was achieved other than inviting and (not by design) exposing an Orwellian police brutality? Whereas in another, tangentially related arena, the conservative Tea party movement has been receiving substantial voter acknowledgement during this past year. You may think this is exactly the antithesis to Occupy, but it is a wholly (and surprisingly) populist movement that is now injecting its conservative views into the veins and arteries of the political system. I think it’s pretty obvious who is moving to the top of the ladder while kicking down. But I’m not sure which version of the world scares me more.

 

FTL Neutrino Vs. The Almost Higgs

As if Albert Einstein turning in his grave isn’t enough, we’re also about to disturb (the still living) Peter Higgs this year with news that physics as they knew it has been shaken but not stirred, respectively. I’m actually quite proud for coming up with that first line. Ricky had asked me a week ago what the announcement on the Higgs particle meant. Since I am completely out of my depth in that regard anyway, I won’t repeat my attempt. But I will relay Ricky’s response to my explanation: “I have no idea what you said in the past 10 minutes”. Which is a pretty good estimator of the lay response to both these news. If we (and perhaps our dogs from eating our homework) are intimately familiar with the equations/models/assumptions of Relativity and the Standard Model, we might have a similar response to Pulp’s Reunion Tour announcement. But back to the topic at hand. Neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light might throw a wrench into Relativity, and bracketing the Higgs in a certain energy range certainly helps with the prospect of confirming a 40 year old model of particle physics. But is there some interaction between the two? Shouldn’t one clothesline the other in the face? How is the Theory of Almost Everything (the Standard Model) complete without first explaining the FTL observations? Am I a poser? Are we anywhere close to curing cancer or predicting the weather? What about nuclear fusion? These are just some of the questions I require of a Theory of Everything – you can add your favorite. But I say this is as exciting as it gets for physicists and as confusing as it sounds to textbook editors and lay scientists alike.

 

Diamond Mine (King Creosote and Jon Hopkins), Circuital (My Morning Jacket) & Rip Tides (Beirut)

There are no pests in this round. There are many other stellar albums this year (The Rapture, Fleet Foxes, Gillian Welch, Low, and Decemberists came to mind easily), but I have not had the time to listen to anything else as closely as I did these 3. They share a common characteristic: very low entry barriers. Circuital (MMJ), Bubble (King Creosote), or East Harlem (Beirut) are so effortlessly interesting that they shepherd you patiently yet steadfastly into the reminder of their respective albums. From then on, the albums take on different paths. Whereas (as I have previously reviewed), MMJ explores many ways to remake themselves after a long recording hiatus, Beirut plunges into a decidedly more reflective sound than the flighty, Polka-induced Gulag Orkestar. I listened to both efforts from Beirut and King Creosote on repeat for days, because they excel at creating an aural ambience that is difficult to escape. Now that I’m in pharmacology, I occasionally think of my music as drugs. So perhaps one of the best ways to endorse the weight and impact of a record isn’t with an overdose of hyperbole or a long string of expletives, but with a honest description of how you were affected by the music in day to day life, and your recovery upon stopping or administering placebo music. Slinking into the musty reminiscence evoked by the soft voice of King Creosote so invited introspection that my labmates stopped to ask whether I was OK. So by that definition, that’s some powerful pharmaceuticals whose return far outweigh their price.

And then there are these powerful parasites that I cannot seem to get rid of. I found Fleet Foxes’ new album a little wanting. But this song really stuck and have a automatic Send-To-Front gesture whenever I sit in a Starbucks. Don’t ask.
Fleet Foxes – Montezuma by squidrobot

Ricky’s facebook post some time in October caused me to look for this guy. I have since played this song (which is actually from 2010) on my way to work almost every other morning. Curse the both of you.
Trentemoller – Shades Of Marble by claudio crivelli

Also a 2010 song. But who cares – now that time travel might actually be possible with FTL neutrino (obviously that was sarcasm). I’m getting to the point where I refer to my spectra as “Zorbance”.
Stornoway – Zorbing by underhisempire2

Well I think that’s enough brain droppings to last all of us until the new year. For now, so long from Baltimore.

Best of 2011: Celeste’s picks

Posted on by Celeste in Year End Reviews | Leave a comment

Matt & Kim

Best of 2011: (Some of the things on this list might have been created earlier than 2011, but being that I live in my own little shmience bubble, 2011 is when their existence became known to me.)

Best websites of 2011:

Jukesy.com Jukesy.com is a website that pubs itself as a mash-up
between last.fm and youtube. The user searches for a band, an album, or a song, and Jukesy combs through the two websites and pulls up all relevant material. You can then create a playlist from the material it pulls up. If you’re like me and you use youtube to listen to songs, this is a great application because you don’t have to constantly go back and forth between windows, pulling up new songs, letting them load, and then hitting play. It’s especially great for when you’re going to a concert and you’re not really familiar with the band – you can just search them in Jukesy, hit play all, and you’ve got a ready-made playlist.

Drinkify.org – Drinkify.org is a super fun website that tells you what to drink when listening to specific bands. Here are some of my
favorites:

“The Gogol Bordello”
– 4oz. Akvavit
– 4oz. Lemon juice
– 8oz. Ogogoro
(Oh jah totally drinkify – I’ll just go ahead and pull out my stash of Ogogoro.)

“The Beats Antique”
– 1 bottle gin
(I just like that everyone else is measured in ounces but apparently when listening to Beats Antique you’re going to need an entire bottle of gin)

“The Jukebox the Ghost”
– PBR
(That right there is true hipster status)

The pure power of this website is impressive – I have yet to stump it in terms of finding an artist they don’t know.

Best songs of 2011:

Block After Block by Matt and Kim – It’s hard not to love something created by two people as happy as Matt and Kim. Their enthusiasm for their music, their fans, and life in general is palpable. The music video just seems so appropriate because in my mind wherever Matt and Kim are present is going to be an automatic impromptu dance party.’

Block After Block (Single Version) by mattandkim

Sexy and I know it by LMFAO – this song just cracks me up. Every time. I’m hoping that someday I will be cool enough that I can honestly say, “This is how I roll – animal print pants outta control.” In the meantime as I wait for that to happen, I’m just going to do the wiggle constantly.

Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes – Something about this lyric “I was raised up believing, I was somehow unique, like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes unique in each way you can see, and now after some thinking I’d say I’d rather be, a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me” speaks to me and my 20-something-ness angst of figuring out what I’m doing with my life. I also have to give mad props to Fleet Foxes for deciding that they were going to bring hymnal music into style.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues by subpop

Limit Break by Deadmau5 – I never loved Deadmau5, but after seeing all his rabid fans at Lollapalooza, I had to begrudgingly give my respect – anyone who can inspire enough confidence in their fan base such that their fans are actually willing to sit down, make themselves homemade dead mouse heads and then wear them in 100 degree weather while being surrounded by thousands of moshing fans is pretty darn impressive. And this song is just so so danceable.

Deadmau5 – Limit Break by fuckmylife

Bizness by Tune-Yards – This song remains my favorite from Tune-Yards simply because it was the very first one I heard from her, and I’m still amazed that a human being can produce those noises.

Bizness by tUnE-yArDs from the forthcoming album w h o k i l l out April 19th on 4AD by terrorbird

Best concert of 2011:

I had to restrict myself to just one because otherwise I was going to go on and on and on. It was a difficult decision – I went to more concerts in 2011 than I have been to in all the other years of my life combined – but I have to say that the Hideout’s 15th birthday celebration with Mavis Staples and Andrew Bird was my favorite concert of 2011. I had been dying to see Chicago native Andrew Bird play since I moved to the city a year and a half ago. Unfortunately/fortunately, the other Chicago native headliner of the night, Mavis Staples, completely stole the show from Andrew Bird. The 72 year old legendary gospel singer (a genre I had never even really bothered to think about) spent a full hour at this outdoor festival just wailing out in her gorgeous husky voice an unexpected mix of songs ranging from Down in Mississippi to the Grateful Dead’s Friend of the Devil. She was obviously a favorite of the uber cool Hideout too, because they built her her very own Pepto-Bismol pink throne on the stage. She remains the only artist I have ever seen who effortlessly incorporated banter with the crowd into her songs, as she was singing them. The combination of Mavis Staples and the mind boggling 20 foot mesh whale that “swam” through the crowd while Andrew Bird sang, making whale noises in time to the music, cemented this concert’s status in my mind as best of the year.

So with that, goodbye to 2011 the year of “why not?” and hello to 2012 the year of “no shame!”

Concert Review: Fleet Foxes, Massey Hall, July 14 2011

Posted on by sarahw in Music | 1 Comment

Fleet Foxes
Photo By Stephen McGill

Toronto – I arrived grumpily at my seat in Massey Hall after navigating a “situation” at the front door, which caused me to miss about six songs of the Fleet Foxes set.  After sitting in my comfy Massey Hall chair I was quickly lulled into submission for the next 90 minutes by Robin Pecknold’s hypnotizing voice.

Fleet Foxes sound beautiful live, here’s why:

Stripped Down

Fleet Foxes are the perfect antithesis to most modern concerts.  They play under a dim light , have no backdrop or props save for some hippie blankets over the amplifiers and  barely talk between songs.  All they have are their instruments and Robin Pecknold’s voice, oh that voice.

Robin Pecknold’s Voice

Enjoying an excellent concert and getting chills are definitely mutually exclusive. Robin’s tenor goose-bump-inducing voice could probably carry throughout Massey Hall without the aid of a microphone.  His chilling voice is definitely one of the things that distinguish Fleet Foxes from other folk bands but lets not forget about the rest of the band.

More Guitars than the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame

I’ve never seen so many string instruments on stage at one time, ranging from mandolin and violin to cello and blues guitar.  All coming together in beautiful string harmonies, the band is so effortlessly accomplished in playing expertly together.

Best Part of the Show

Most Fleet Foxes songs have many parts, sounding like many different songs in one.  The Shrine/An Argument is the perfect illustration of this.  It starts off slowly, just Robin and his guitar but gradually builds into a darker, heavier, full-band 8 minute epic that expertly combines 4 different songs.

Worst Part of the Show

THE AUDIENCE.  This is a chilled out, sit in your chair and take it all in show.  Just because it’s quiet and Robin doesn’t talk much between songs, does NOT give you the right to be a jackass.  Between almost every song people were yelling things like “your harmonies are perfect” (they may be, but everyone knows that) or “I’ve waited my whole life for this” (really? Get a life) or my favourite “why did you shave your beard” (who the fuck cares?).   Canada has already garnered a savage reputation after the Vancouver riots, we don’t want to be known as those idiots to the north that can’t even yell something witty at a show.  Grow up, please.

Robin Pecknold has a superhuman voice with an exceptionally talented band to accompany him.  You will have a new found appreciation for the Fleet Foxes music when you see them live.  I guarantee.

5/5

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues by subpop