Concert Review: Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes.jpg

By Jake Ebdale

Artist: Fleet Foxes

Date / Venue: Tuesday 9th January, 2018 - The Powerstation, Auckland

I have to give full disclosure here – I’m not the biggest Fleet Foxes guy. I was into maybe one or two of their singles from 10 years ago (the eponymous debut) and then it took, if I’m not mistaken, a long time to follow it up with Helplessness Blues, and then six years after that for album number three, 2017’s Crack Up. Alt-folk’s currency peaked around 2010, and I haven’t been into it since.

But at the same time, I’ve always been intrigued by the Fleet Foxes’ catalogue – only three albums, no fat, all meticulously, painstakingly crafted by Robin Pecknold and his talented band. Crack Up is by far their least ‘commercial’ sounding record, and the opening track, ‘I Am All That I Need’, is a wave of menacing orchestral swells, distorted vocals and off-kilter acoustics (well, this is what I heard after a quickfire listen on Spotify, at least). This was something I needed to hear live to get.

Originally slated for the Auckland Town Hall, the now Powerstation crowd was loud and lively, Pecknold seeming taken aback by all the good will. Those two familiar songs, ‘White Winter Hymnal’ and ‘Ragged Wood’, came early, garnering the loudest response – and they’re still as solid as I remember. There were other highlights, including that opening tune from Crack Up, as well as the closing track on Helplessness Blues, ‘Grown Ocean’.

As there were hardly any breaks in between songs, everything started to seem like one loping acoustic prog monster. Not knowing their catalogue extensively, this was sometimes trying, but you could focus on the good rather than bad in these moments – everyone in the band is a multi-instrumentalist or just fucking talented, and I’d admire the constant instrument changes by, well, everyone. The vocal harmonic skill, especially that of Pecknold and bassist Christian Wargo, is something to behold.

So, though I’m a rather fleeting fan of the Foxes, I came away with a newfound respect and interest in the band. That’s all you can really ask for, right?