Archive: Fleet Foxes.
A concert review of Fleet Foxes at Forrest Hills - August 13, 2022
Reposting previously published content was not my initial intention for this platform, but a link in yesterday to Brandon Taylor’s excerpted introduction for the newly released Wading in Waist-High Water: The Lyrics of Fleet Foxes made me reconsider. The music of Fleet Foxes has this effect — an urge to sing out and sing along, again, and again, each time anew.
In an effort to bolster the archives, I am reposting a concert review that originally appeared on NYLive.org, August 20th, 2022. Enjoy.
Standing in GA at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY, the breeze was soothing, even chilly in moments, not unlike an August evening Upstate when summer starts to give, and we are reminded that seasons change. After a stretch of blistering hot days in New York, the humidity broke, and the city seemed to sigh in relief. A reminiscent autumn chill is fitting for a Fleet Foxes concert, especially on the closing night of the North American tour supporting the well-received Shore, the album whose release coincided with the 2020 autumnal equinox. A few seasons delayed, but here we were to celebrate, to sigh with a sense of relief.
I was struck initially by how empty the stadium seemed, even up to the moment that Robin Pecknold and band – a 9 piece ensemble including New York brass quartet The Westerlies – walked on stage. In the flurry of post-lock down concert hype I expected sold-out energy, but looking back, that vibe would have been too much for a show opened with “Wading in Waist-High Water,” featuring Shore collaborator and tour opener Uwade on vocals. By “Can I Believe You,” the crowd consolidated, with those on the outskirts filling into seats with better sight lines, primed to sing along to indie classics like “He Doesn’t Know Why” and “White Winter Hymnal.”
In terms of music, this was the show I was expecting. Pecknold’s folky confessional songwriting style is fully recognized by the band’s vocal harmony and orchestration. Being in front of a stage filled with people playing actual instruments still feels special, no doubt fueled partially by the absence of this spectacle in the last few years. But I could not help but notice how the staging felt small – the video screen, the lighting elements, the band’s physical footprint onstage. The most impressive moments of the night were a string of acoustic numbers (“Blue Spotted Tail,” “If You Need To, Keep Time on Me”) featuring only Robin and guitar. When Robin stopped briefly during a Judee Sill cover of the “The Kiss” to check on a distressed audience member, I wondered if a smaller, indoor show would have translated better, or helped bridge my personal gap between expectation and reality.
I realized then that any lingering disappointment came only from expecting the experience to match the way Shore made me feel – expansive, genuine, alive …
But navigating the muddy in-between of expectation and reality is exactly where Fleet Foxes’ music is best suited, and how they have come to run in the same circles as Bon Iver, Aaron Dessner, and famously, Post Malone. Watching the band cover The Strokes’ “Under Control” while dressed in custom tennis gear felt like a uniquely New York moment. I realized then that any lingering disappointment came only from expecting the experience to match the way Shore made me feel – expansive, genuine, alive – when, this was a concert in a tennis stadium, on a beautiful Saturday in August, to be enjoyed and appreciated exactly as it was.
Shore, duh, which I cannot believe I do not own on vinyl... But also this:
“How to Cheer For America” by Clint Smith for The Atlantic, which is the first issue of The Great Game, a newsletter that will be following the World Cup 2022 and discussing the culture and meaning of the world’s favorite sport. A sports newsletter I am excited to follow about a tournament I CANNOT WAIT TO BEGIN!
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