Blitzen Trapper 11/17/11
Music Box at Fonda – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
On the wild ride that is life as an amateur rock journalist, Blitzen Trapper has served as my training wheels for much of the journey. A long time ago (a little over three years to be exact) a major network in the Viacom family sent me to Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, CA to shoot the band. While I had taken plenty of photos at shows, I had never been sent on someone else’s dime to shoot and cover a specific artist. I was not only excited to be working as a journalist, but my love for the six piece Portland Oregon based band began on that warm summer day. Then a few months ago, the fine folks at Antiquiet allowed me to review the groups outstanding 2011 release American Goldwing. My first published album review, once again Blitzen Trapper allowed me to experience growth in this crazy day and age where a kid with nothing more than a California public school education and a dream can become Almost Famous on the World Wide Web. So walking into the Music Box at Fonda on Thursday night I assumed I would simply enjoy the show as I do most shows – safely tucked away in the crowd doing our trademark By Fans for Fans below the radar approach on concert coverage. I assumed wrong.
Shortly after walking through the doors of the Hollywood Blvd venue, a Coachella 2011 media pass was slapped upon my wrist and a fancy Canon SLR camera was handed over to me. While I have had multiple experiences in photo pits over the years, this was only the second time I have shot with a “real” camera. After a brief lesson on how to use such a fine photography capturing device I was six inches away from Blitzen Trapper as they opened their 90 minute set with “Sleepy Time in the Western World.” While I imagine my three songs worth of photos will leave a lot to be desired it was great practice as I look to grow in the field of concert reporting.
By the time I was done shooting, the venue was packed to the very back of the balcony. I found a spot on the stage right side for the remaining 75 minutes of Blitzen Trapper’s final co-headline show of 2011 with Dawes. The group did a fine job of mixing songs from American Goldwing with material from their back catalogue. Early on, the group eased into the night with familiar material including the earlier mentioned “Sleepy Time in the Western World” and “Furr.” As I felt when I first heard American Goldwing, the new songs are designed to rock the masses. “Fletcher,” “Love the Way You Walk Away” and “My Own Town” felt larger than the venue the band was performing in.
In a day and age where bands are often disposed of if they don’t hit it big out of the gate, Blitzen Trapper have been allowed the luxury to grow slowly into a fine tuned machine. From the story telling lyrics of “Black River Killer” to the balls to the wall rock and roll onslaught that is “Street Fighting Sun” the six piece group manages to blend so many elements into a unique yet familair sound. On this particular Thursday night we witnessed softer moments where you could hear a pin drop within the crowd, we witnessed soaring guitar solos and pump organ fueled improvisational jams within a collection of songs that make you feel damn proud to be an American. While I don’t know what fantastic journalistic endeavor Blitzen Trapper and I will embark on next, I know I most definitely look forward to it.