With unwavering, passionate energy, Blitzen Trapper performed the last show of the tour in support of their newest album, “Destroyer of the Void,” on Thursday night at the Ogden Theatre. The Portland, Ore.-based sextet’s eclectic mix of new and old songs demonstrated their expertly-orchestrated musical experimentation.
With each member of the band wielding different instruments throughout the entire set, the performance led the audience through the various influences and muses that have inspired their five full-length albums and seven-song EP. Songs such as “Laughing Lover” displayed heavy influences of ’60s and ’70s pop-rock bands, such as the Monkees and Queen. Toward the end of the set, the Americana-sounding, storytelling anthem “Furr” garnered an all-out sing-along from the audience.
Blitzen Trapper’s dynamic songwriting capabilities opened up songs, like the title track from their latest record, to incorporate acoustic and electronic instrumental elements beautifully and create truly cohesive melodies. It is within the band’s abilities as songwriters that malleability develops, opening their work up to a variety of stylistic versions for their music. For example, “The Tree,” a song that the sextet performed flawlessly, would have been just as impressive and enjoyable had the band’s lead vocalist and guitar player, Eric Earley, performed it solo.
Earley, who could take first prize in a Bret McKenzie look-alike contest, did perform three songs on his own during the middle of the set while the rest of the band vanished backstage. Just like the rest of the evening, Earley’s solo highlighted the folk roots of the band’s music and resembled the soulful crooning of Bob Dylan.
In the fickle, trend-chasing music business, bands must remain faithful to their roots so that they retain their fans’ appreciation while continuing to evolve and avoid redundancy. These two concepts don’t always cooperate with one another. But making music that is uniquely their own without sounding so similar that it becomes dull, Blitzen Trapper displays a multifaceted distinctiveness that translates into a truly superb live music experience.
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Allison Sands is a Denver-based writer and regular contributor to Reverb. Check out her Twitter page.
Joe McCabe is a Denver photographer and a frequent contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.