Monday, October 6, 2008

Fleet Foxes play NYC's Grand Ballroom, 10.4.08

Just months after playing smaller venues like the Bowery Ballroom this past summer, Seattle's Fleet Foxes returned to New York City to perform at the appropriately-named Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center on Saturday.

The band members were chipper throughout the night and despite their growing fame, they seemed humble as well — frontman Robin Pecknold paused several times to comment on the strangeness of performing in a venue larger than the ones they'd played before. Performing songs from the Sun Giant EP and their self-titled album, which were both released this year, the band kicked things off "Sun Giant" and "Sun it Rises." The ballroom was soon filled with the Fleet Foxes' trademark heavenly harmonies and audience members seemed mesmerized by the blend of folk, rock and pop melodies, which successfully replicated and expanded upon the band's studio recordings.

But while the band members are clearly serious about their craft, they were not averse to cracking jokes and interacting with audience members. In fact, the banter began from the moment the Fleet Foxes took the stage. Band members laughed together and congratulated each other if one of them made a particularly hilarious zinger. Pecknold chatted with audience members who called out anecdotes from their favorite shows and when one concertgoer shouted out "Come As You Are" between songs, the band laughed as Christian Wargo obliged the crowd by subtly playing the opening notes to the Nirvana classic on his bass.

The band began wrapping things up with two solo performances by Pecknold, who decided to go unplugged, singing without a mic for "Katie Cruel." His voice carried surprisingly well and when he signaled that he would be plugging in for "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song," audience members pleaded against it. Pecknold gave in and performed without the mic again, receiving thunderous applause when he was done. The band played a new song titled "Silver City" after Pecknold's solo showcase, and while they kept pointing out that it was a work in progress, it seemed pretty complete. The night finally came to a close with "Blue Ridge Mountains," followed by gracious thank you gestures from the band.

Though the Fleet Foxes are relatively new in the grand scheme of the music world, they could be around for a very long time if they keep cranking out stellar recordings and leave audiences smiling the same way those at Grand Ballroom were by the end of Saturday's show.