What can I say? You really had to be there. Really.
It was one of those rare concerts that completely transports you to another time and place and gives you a glimpse of another’s soul. The kind of vulnerability and openness that Robin Pecknol exhibited on stage is a joyous and beautiful sight to behold. The band’s four part harmonies flowed forth creating an ephemeral shimmering world of sun, mountains, and life as you might have imagined in days of old. Damn you, Fleet Foxes! I’ve had tiny ribbons of songs swirling around in my head for days and days now, stuck like little loops in my head.
So let me try and clear my head for a few minutes and give you some facts about this young up and coming band. Singer Robin Pecknold, 21, began making music with his best friend Skye Skjelset in their early teens. They are currently complemented by some of Seattle’s best musicians, formerly and currently in bands such as Pedro the Lion, Seldom, and Crystal Skulls. Fleet Foxes current lineup includes Robin Pecknold on vocals and acoustic guitar, Skye Skjelset on guitar, Casey Wescott on keys and vocals, Christian Wargo on bass and vocals, and the most recent addition is singer songwriter J. Tillman for drum/backup vocal duties.
Though Robin claimed the whole band was plagued by a “European cold” they appeared none the worse for the wear. Perhaps it was the pints of water they continually downed throughout the show. There were frequent random shout-outs from the crowd that kept a smile and a slight blush on the quintets faces. “I want to have your babies!” one man crooned. Only in San Francisco, I thought. You could tell the profuse admiration was something young Robin is not quite used to. Exclamations such as “Holy sh*t! That sounded so f*cking great!”, were met with a bashful smile and stories of strange interactions with the European press. Evidently the band’s ample facial hair was the center of much fodder. But each time, the intimate small talk gave way to the next blissful song. In a live setting the bands songs are almost mystic and transcendental.
For me, the highlight of the show was an acoustic solo cover of Judee Sill’s “Crayon Angels,” followed by “Oliver James.” The crowd was speechless, almost motionless, just listening. It was great to see a crowd and a band so present in the moment. To me, that’s live music at it’s best.
Video: Fleet Foxes Ragged Wood featuring Images from the Bottom of the Hill