Fleet Foxes at the Fox Oakland, 4/21/09

by David Price on April 22, 2009

Fleet Foxes at the Fox.  Thanks to Flickr user Gussifer.

Fleet Foxes at the Fox. Thanks to Flickr user Gussifer.

Robin Pecknold, lead singer of Fleet Foxes, emerges from stage right for an encore after an hour set; he comes wielding his acoustic guitar and a great looking beard. He banters with the crowd of the nearly sold out Fox theater in Oakland, then tell us all that he is going to “do this one without a mic”. He unplugs his guitar and steps up to the very front of the center apron of the stage and begins to play truly acoustically. Robin’s powerful voice emanates through the theater of about twenty-two-hundred perfectly quiet listeners. With a revolving cast of players in the five-piece Seattle-based band, it seems that Pecknold is Fleet Foxes. I enjoy the simplicity of a singular Pecknold in an other wise deeply woven creation of sound.

Fleet Foxes offer up a wonderful production of a fantastic musical experience. With a great understanding of rock and folk, it might not be so obvious that the Fleet Foxes are not simply recreating a sound but rather drawing from their musical repertoire to rework what might be their most influential of styles.

Most of all the songs are driven by Pecknold vocals, if not performed solely by him. Pecknold’s powerful voice lends emotion to lyrics that are rather straightforward, yet yield a sort of deranged fairytale quality to them. Harmonies support lyrical content by wrapping themselves into a blanket of mystery and lore with large drums and multi-layer vocals.

As I look down into a crowd of 800 or so visible watchers on the floor of the Fox, I watch a sea of people bopping their heads in synchronization. The harmonies are infectious. Dummer Josh Tillman’s floor tom and Casey Wescott’s staccato piano seemingly mesmerize the crowd with rhythm.

I really enjoyed Pecknold’s banter with the crowd, making lighthearted breaks within the deep trance, joking that he’d like to watch ‘There Will be Blood’ at the Fox. Talking back and forth with the crowd, a great sense of humility came through with an obvious appreciation for the turnout not only at the Fox but also at the Fillmore and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco a few nights earlier. It’s nice to see bands that really enjoy their following and are thankful for such.

I think that Fleet Foxes have such a sense of modesty by the fact that within a year they have come from playing Bottom of the Hill that holds about 200 to the Fox that fills more then 2,800.

I hope to see Fleet Foxes flourish even more; they’re an outstanding musical strength.

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