September 14th, 2011 – The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Like a lad with good manners who would walk up to his date’s doorstep instead of honking from the street, The Walkmen started the night in a soft and cordial manner with the song “While I Shovel the Snow.” The song, which is off the band’s most recent release, Lisbon, was a dreamy lullaby and had two band members endearingly playing the triangle. With a little more drive on the guitars, the band smoothly transitioned into “Blue As Your Blood,” where the mood remained quite mellow until they moved into the more exhilarated “Woe Is Me.”
Similar to the part of the date where the nerves wither away, lead singer Hamilton Leithauser became a bit more animated and the guitars were a lot more vibrant as The Walkmen’s set continued.
With Lisbon being exactly a year old, the band members shared some new material that they have been working on. One new song that was particularly gripping had a touch of rejuvenation from the band’s more garage sound and featured off-kiltered guitar parts that were jerked into the song every couple beats. While the technique could have clashed with the flow of the song, it actually worked really well. The rest of the set included “All Hands and the Cook” from 2006’s A Hundred Miles Off and the lovable “Canadian Girl” from 2008’s You & Me.
Though not dressed as dapper as The Walkmen, and opting instead for flannel, Fleet Foxes carried on the romantic date vibe. Equivalent to genuine affection between daters, the band opened with the stunning “The Plains/Bitter Dancer” off their recently released album, Helplessness Blues. With the gentleness of upright bass, coziness of the flute, and angelic harmonies, the band created an environment that made one feel safe. Behind the band was a screen that flashed nature-inspired images, including a starry sky, which was nice in a city like LA where it is difficult to see actual stars in the sky.
Bouncing back and forth between songs from the band’s EP and two full-length albums, it was very impressive how detailed the set was. On record, Fleet Foxes songs are rich with layers and elaborate instrumentations that sound effortless, and in the live setting that was no different. Violins, flutes, and steel pedal guitars were all a part of the live show, and it made a big difference. Though the songs would have probably sounded just as lovely as stripped down versions, the audience did appreciate the thoroughness.
The instrumentation is not the only thing that shined, though; the band’s vocals and harmonies were truly unreal. On songs like “White Winter Hymnal,” the harmonies were majestic, and on “Montezuma,” the lead singer Robin Pecknold’s voice, which trembled with radiance while remaining steady, were so pure that they gave one chills.
As the band neared the end of its set with “Blue Spotted Tail,” the crowd was mesmerized and dead silent. The set ended with “Grown Ocean,” but was then followed with a 4-song encore.
By the end of the night the Los Angeles air was pretty cold, but the tenderness of the music helped get one through the night. One felt like she had been offered the gentleman’s coat and was ending the night with a sweet kiss and an everlasting smile.