Let us interrupt our regular programming to write about some of the most interesting foreign acts visiting Finland. We want to start this new section with the modern americana and stupendous three part harmonies of Blitzen Trapper that last Tuesday started their European Tour in Helsinki.
Even though, the band can be grouped in the same category as other recent hypes (say Fleet Foxes, Dr. Dog, Bon Iver), but their excellent 2008 album Furr seems to have been forgotten by the wide audience. However, these six guys from Portland, Oregon showed in Tavastia that they have composed a bunch of very good songs that put together an exciting live show.
A band cannot do wrong when the drummer plays harmonica, drums and sings harmony vocals during the same song like Brian Adrian Koch did, and as a matter of fact, every member enjoy multitasking, switching instruments, from guitars to keyboards to small percussion toys or even to cowbell. But overall, the band really works on the harmony vocals as lead vocalist is usually accompanied by the voices of guitar player Marty Marquis and drummer Koch and this singing really shined on the songs performed acoustically just by the three of them, including a cover of Dolly Parton’s The Last Thing On My Mind. As a trio, they also performed at a record store a few hours before hitting the stage at Tavastia.
The influences of The Band and Crosby, Still & Nash are evident, but Blitzen Trapper are revivalist and in spite of touching many different genres (folk, pop, rock, country), they manage to sound fresh and coherent. You can hear a little bit of Grateful Dead, Beatles Dylan and even the Crazy Horse wildness, but the show does not feel old and tired. Far from that, actually. The band managed the dynamics of the show pretty well, engaging the audience from the first song.
The setlist, of course, was mostly based on Furr, but it also included a few new songs from the new EP Black River Killer, which will be on the stores in a few a days, although it was already available at the merchandise table. One of those new songs is Big Black River, a Grateful Dead type of song. Click on the button below to hear it from a recent recording available at the Live Music Archive.[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/bt2009-07-18.mtx.flac16/bt2009-07-18matrixt07_16bit_vbr.mp3%5D