I declare Blitzen Trapper to be the modern band most likely to cover a deep cut by the Band and absolutely slay it.
There’s no one else I can make a comparison to, and that’s a big one, I know; but something about the vocals, and the organ swells, and the loose bass lines and the metronomic drumming and all the guitars just makes my heart ache in exactly the same way that Music From Big Pink does. Not all of it, of course — Blitzen Trapper gets wild and experimental in so many places that they can and the Band couldn’t, but it’s so close. Live, it’s so much even more close, and that’s one of the reasons they’re among my favorite live bands today.
It helps that their songwriting is amazing, of course, and they’re all absolutely captivating in stage presence, but part of it will always be that I hear them, with my eyes closed and my heart thumping against my rib cage, and I can almost imagine that it’s Danko and Manuel on stage. Then I open my eyes and it’s not, and it’s just as good. I can’t think of a better or more talented band to take on that mantle, really. They were phenomenal at the Cradle last night — a healthy mix of songs from the new album and Destroyer of the Void and a couple of great cuts from Furr, including a shivery audience sing-along to the title track, and even the title track off “Wild Mountain Nation” which was close to religious in its power to pull you out of a moment into the music.
I felt transported and lifted up all show, and that is all I want from music.
Smoke Fairies opened, and they play what can only be called a fusion of the traditional English ballad with indie rock. They were great; both women are phenomenal guitarists and have the kind of haunting, accent-tinged voices that makes your spine shiver. I really dug on them.
I missed Dawes to scoot across the street to shoot a release show, and I’m a little bummed about that, but Sinful Savage Tigers are too good to be missed.
Full set here.