Fleet Foxes Serenade a Quiet, Receptive Audience at Revention Music Center

Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes
Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes Photo by Matthew Keever
Fleet Foxes
Revention Music Center
May 7, 2018

A Fleet Foxes performance doesn't require much. Not really.

The band doesn't do much onstage. Theatrics are minimal, absent of any swinging microphones or cannons that shower the crowd in confetti. Instead, the Seattle-based indie darlings focus solely on their musicianship, making absolutely certain that the magic they created in the studio can be recreated live.

At a packed Revention Music Center, the quintet — which featured Matt Barrick as a touring member on drums — showed fans just how precise a live performance can be.

No backing vocals or tracks were employed Monday night. Fleet Foxes produced all of their sound themselves, utilizing only their vocal chords and the instruments onstage. Their music, reminiscent of a number of indie bands that rose to prominence in the late 2000s, boasted stripped down melodies with an emphasis on harmonies.

Fifteen minutes into their set, the band hit its stride with "White Winter Hymnal," the first single from their 2008 eponymous debut album. Brimming with fairytale imagery and vague lyricism, the track reeled the crowd in with its robust harmonies. Once they had the everyone's attention, the group slowed it down with "Ragged Wood" and "Your Protector."

The crowd was barely acknowledged, save for a few times when frontman Robin Pecknold fielded questions about his vintage sweater and camomile tea. But fans didn’t care. They weren't there to hear him talk; they were there to hear him sing and strum his guitar.

Hues of red and blue engulfed the stage for most of the evening as psychedelic images and abstract shapes were displayed onscreen behind the band. Thick plumes of smoke reached high into the air, emanating from machines onstage and the audience alike.

An hour into the evening, Pecknold was left alone onstage. With only his acoustic guitar to support him, he performed "Tiger Pleasant Mountain Song," a haunting track in which the narrator murders someone then watches as a group of townspeople search for the body. A hush fell over the crowd for the entire performance until the singer-songwriter finally belted out, "I don't know what I have done/I'm turning myself into a demon!"

The three-and-a-half-minute spell fans had been under was broken, and they all began to cheer.

Near the end of the show, Fleet Foxes flexed their musical muscles on "Mykonos," which was likely the best-received song of the night. The group seamlessly executed a bevy of harmonies and a tricky time-signature change at the halfway mark of the tune, and the crowd responded with heartfelt applause.

Fleet Foxes ended their 95-minute set with “Blue Ridge Mountains,” during which Morgan Henderson's upright bass shook the floors of the venue as Pecknold's voice cut through the thick. Following an hour and a half of introverted lyricism, a song about missing his brother was about as earnest as the frontman could get.

Revention provided a venue for the band, while the lights and images onscreen lent the performance a bit of artistry. But really, the only things Fleet Foxes need to put on a great show are their instruments. The band showcased its talents in full Monday night, leaving fans satisfied and hopeful that it won't be another six years between albums.

But even if it takes that long, music this good is typically worth the wait.

Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar
Third of May / ?daigahara
Helplessness Blues
Drops In The River
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
The Cascades
On Another Ocean (January / June)
Fool's Errand
He Doesn't Know Why
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
Oliver James
The Shrine / An Argument
Grown Ocean

If You Need To, Keep Time on Me
English House
Battery Kinzie
Blue Ridge Mountains
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever