(Fleet Foxes performed at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas on May 10, 2011)
With all the fireworks, light displays and special effects that accompany so many concerts in this day and age, it’s easy to attest that simplicity is a forgotten virtue. Fear not, however, pure musical talent — without the smoke and mirrors — is still out there, as proven by The Cave Singers and Fleet Foxes Tuesday night outside on Stubb’s Patio. Beneath a blanket of clouds was a sold-out crowd swarming the stage and erupting in cheers as The Cave Singers arrived on the stage.
The Cave Singers are based out of Seattle, and are made of three guys: Pete Quirk on vocals, harmonica and guitar, Derek Fudesco on guitar and bass pedals and drummer/guitarist Marty Lund. The trio began playing earlier than expected, just 30 minutes after the doors opened, which offered a nice break from the “suspenseful” 2-hour-long buildup to even catch a glimpse of any band members. It was love the minute they struck their first chord. It felt as though the group’s hypnotizing folksy sound saturated the hot, muggy Texas air. The Cave Singers played a slew of songs ranging from their 2007 debut album, Invitation Songs, to their newest release that came out in February, No Witch. The longer they played, the harder it became to believe that Fudesco’s guitar training began only shortly before the group’s formation just a few years ago. His acoustic talents were entrancing, and the perfect complement to Quirk’s grainy vocals. As if summoned by some higher, aural power, as The Cave Singers approached their finale, raindrops trickled down from the overcast sky. The music grew louder, the rain poured harder and the crowd reveled in it all.
Shortly after the downpour calmed, Fleet Foxes appeared on stage. The Cave Singers acted as a perfect warm up for their fellow Seattle natives. Fleet Foxes just released their newest full-length, Helplessness Blues, about a week ago on May 3. Those who’ve listened know that it shares the beautiful harmonies so typical of the group. Fleet Foxes showered the audience with song after song, filled with acoustic beauty and mesmerizing harmonies, from classics like “White Water Hymnal” to their newest single from the album, “Battery Kinzie.” Often times bands that rely on vocals to the same extent as these guys, will sound entirely different live. Fleet Foxes may be the exception. Even through songs that include instrumental hiatuses, relying solely on their voices in a capella, they sounded simply amazing. The group exited the stage after playing a lengthy set, but (at first) only singer-songwriter Robin Pecknold returned for a short encore. He played a song by himself, which the crowd was entirely receptive to. His band mates joined him on stage for the final two songs that left their fans in utter awe.
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