Blitzen Trapper @ Prince Bandroom
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Blitzen Trapper @ Prince Bandroom

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After an appearance earlier in the day at Pure Pop Records where they, um, sat down and had a beer, my expectations were high for Portland’s Blitzen Trapper. On record they sound exactly like your favourite country rock records from the ’70s that you’ve never even heard, overrun with sweet harmonies and melodic left-turns, and at The Prince in front of a criminally undersold crowd, they didn’t disappoint. Frontman and chief architect Eric Earley resembles the lovechild of Charles Manson and Jason Swartzman, with all the intensity of the former, and the brooding indie cred and super brows of the latter. No one in this band is a passenger; the drummer even contributes pitch-perfect backing vocals. Guitarist and second Erik (Menteer) sported the same Raditude t-shirt he rocked on Letterman, and when he wasn’t ripping out Harrison-esque slides he was headbanging Zepplin mega-chords.

 

They focused primarily on latest release American Goldwing, which at times can sacrifice their usually tasteful and authentic country to go for something a little more risky. I thought this move away into prog-rock territory, complete with Yes-isms and 16 quick chord changes per bar, provided quite a lovely balance. A rich blend of squarking harmonica and sparse acoustic chords reminiscent of country-style Neil one moment; impeccable three-point harmonies and bitchin’ guitar solo trade-offs the next. What more do you people want? Like Wilco and My Morning Jacket, Blitzen Trapper take tasteful Americana and do something beautiful and original with it. They even finished with Zep’s Good Times, Bad Times, which fits seamlessly with the more stadium rock of their latest album. And I’m nowhere near a Zepp fan. Except that Stairway solo. Part of me enjoys a half-full show, what with the elbow room and easy bar access, but Blitzen Trapper deserve so much better than this. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

 

BY NICK HILTON

Photo credit: Nick Irving

 

LOVED: Drummer Adrian Koch’s pristine harmonies
HATED: That it didn’t go all night, baby.
DRANK: Beer.