Blind Pilot at Chautauqua Auditorium, 8/11/12 (photos and review)By Craig Randall | August 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
A road weary Blind Pilot played to a full Chautauqua Auditorium Saturday night, with the members only finding their legs in the set’s final half hour. Admittedly being “so excited” to play the barn-like hall since the tour kicked off months ago, the band was both excited by the venue yet tired from being on the road for “seven years,” bassist, Luke Ydskie, joked.
Chautauqua, the venue, does unique things to bands. It’s a setting not unlike Red Rocks where the magnitude of the acoustics and natural beauty of the area is a challenge for upstart acts without huge stage presence and command.
On Saturday night, Blind Pilot was timid under Chautauqua’s burden. Perhaps it’s the nature of the band’s sound: lush, quiet and almost too perfect for spontaneity or unmeasured excitability, but it felt uneven against Chautauqua’s elevated ambiance.
The set started with “Always” from 2011’s “We Are The Tide,” as the group – banjo, vibraphone, keys, upright bass, and guitar – settled into a quiet rhythm. Singer Israel Nebeker’s voice — an instrument in itself — was perfect for the set’s full 90 minutes.
Nebeker’s singing is effortless (even if it isn’t widely ranging) and it was heartening to hear hints of falsetto during a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Moonlight Mile” in the encore.
Nebeker is the clear leader of the group, and often looked around the stage at his bandmates to keep order. On a couple occasions he seemed to glare back towards trumpeter, Dave Jorgensen, as if to say, “Pipe down a little, won’t you?” The band’s flawless musicianship was hindered only by some missteps in the mix.
Where the wail worked best though was during the final song, where things finally got animated, collectively loud, and the crowd danced earnestly. The band engaged openers River City Extension for an ensemble performance to close the show, ending a three-song streak where the audience, band and venue finally began to merge.
Craig Randall is a Boulder-based writer and PR pro with an identity crisis. He credits both “Let Me Love You Down” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” as life-changing tracks. Check out his website.
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.