another show review

July 3, 2010

BLITZEN TRAPPER + MOONDOGGIES @ EL REY THEATER

originally published here

Northwest dudes (and band names over 10-letters long) Blitzen Trapper and Moondoggies brought their native grey skies to L.A. Tuesday, but charmed the warm Southern California air with their mutual love of Laurel Canyon’s musical heyday. For me, it was a “hoo-WEE” night and Moondoggies’ steady 4/4 and upbeat Rhodes organ riffs had me swerving hard as I arrived at the first Goldenvoice show of the L.A. Record 100 Festival. Members of headliners Blitzen Trapper emerged to finish off the Moondoggies’ set with a 4 guitar-deep (one with a slide) cover of Neil Young’s “Downtown” and then set up to play out their own twangy dreams. The BT set was full of earnest folk songs both early-70s-inspired and unapologetically modern (it could have been the four keyboards on stage). But despite skillfully playing a handful of upbeat foot-stompers, (and my group’s attempts at starting some clap-alongs) the crowd refused to show any energy towards the evening’s headliners. Maybe the stoic, out-of-place old men (one looked EXACTLY like George Lucas) made the younger set uncomfortable. Or maybe all the couples standing there with their arms fully around each other (I get it, you guys are both taken) made everyone else want to gag instead of dance. Either way, the band took notice (as did one crowd member who yelled, “This is the worst crowd I’ve ever fucking seen!”) and finished out the set with a string of mellow, acoustic-guitar-piano-and-possibly-harmonica songs. Though they hadn’t played their most popular tune, “Furr,” an encore wasn’t asked for—but the drummer came back out anyway and explained that his band is in the process of filming a comedy sketch with Rainn Wilson and (in typical L.A. fashion) we were set (haha) to become extras in it. With the announcement that Dwight Schrute was on site, the crowd finally bustled with excitement. The premise was that Rainn has eaten the band members and is attempting to play a concert as Blitzen Trapper and our job was to make noise when he comes out and go quiet when he starts to play. Fueled by the idea of being caught on film, the energetic crowd cheered when Rainn took the stage looking like a heavy metal version of his character in The Rocker and acted aghast as he howled over the first few bars of “Furr” as if he had, himself, become the wolf from the song. After two takes, the real band came out and played their encore song sans-howling, but by then the crowd had returned to its stuck-up self and I found sadness in the fact that only in Los Angeles could a totally likeable band like Blitzen Trapper be burdened with a crowd so boring that it gets outshone by the prospect of being seen in a YouTube video with Rainn Wilson.

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