words by Andrew Sacher, photos by Toby Tenenbaum
The night began with a great opening set from The Walkmen at Williamsburg Waterfront on Saturday (9/24). The set was made up largely of the band's calmer songs and hit an interesting point during the galloping "Blue As Your Blood," when lead singer Hamilton Leithauser crooned, "The sky above is blue as your blood." Everyone and their cell phone cameras turned around to find that the sky above was actually a really intensely vibrant orange.
At around 7:50 PM, Fleet Foxes walked out onto the stage before the sold out Williamsburg Waterfront and after a shout out to The Walkmen, drifted into the lifting psych folk of "The Plains/Bitter Dancer." Since I last saw Fleet Foxes they've added a sixth member (their lineup now includes Morgan Henderson, formerly of The Blood Brothers), and are able to flesh out their set with even more layers of instrumentation than on their earlier tours. Morgan brings an array of woodwinds and string instruments to the band's sound and helps create more space for the other members to rotate between different instruments as well.
After opening with one of the strongest songs on Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes took us back with two Sun Giant tracks, "Mykonos" and "English House," before returning to their more recent material. The new and old songs fit together perfectly in a live setting. This came across most prominently when Robin Pecknold's performance of "Montezuma" was accompanied only by the lush vocal harmonies of his bandmates until they returned to their instruments on the last chord of the song, leading directly into "He Doesn't Know Why." Fleet Foxes hit their highest peak in the set with their 8-minute psych-prog opus "The Shine/An Argument." Beginning with Robin's delicate acoustic guitar and gentle vocals, the song slowly began to build as Robin howled, "Sunlight over me, no matter what I do," and harmonies floated into the mix. On the first hit of J. Tillman's thundering drums which drive the song's second passage, shapeshifting psychedelic visuals took over the screen that hung on the stage's backdrop. Robin and Co. added in tremendous harmonies secured by the "In the morning" refrain, which eventually meandered off into the song's third passage, complete with images of green apple trees and Morgan Henderson's fantastic avant-sax solo. The song eventually faded into "Blue Spotted Tail" which, after the otherworldly ending of "The Shrine/An Argument," felt like a return to reality led by unanswerable questions like, "Why is life made only for to end?"
After playing "Grown Ocean," Fleet Foxes left the stage and after a short break, Robin returned by himself to play a new song that he had finished a few weeks ago. He was then joined by the rest of his band for three more songs including, "Sun It Rises," the much anticipated "Blue Ridge Mountains," and recent single "Helplessness Blues."
More pictures, videos, and setlist from the show below...
Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal" at Williamsburg Waterfront 9/24/11
Fleet Foxes - "Battery Kinzie" at Williamsburg Waterfront 9/24/11
Fleet Foxes Setlist:
The Plains/Bitter Dancer
Sim Sala Bim
White Winter Hymnal
He Doesn't Know Why
The Shrine/An Argument
Blue Spotted Tail
Sun It Rises
Blue Ridge Mountains