By Sheena McNeely, Journalist and Jeff Madore, Photographer–Rock At Night Orlando Correspondents
Venue: House of Blues, Orlando-March 3, 2018
Last night, The House of Blues, in Disney Springs, was full to burst as fans of all ages and all walks of life filed in and found their vantage points to view a band that some of them probably never thought they would see perform live again. Fleet Foxes came to Orlando for the first time after the band dissolved a few years ago and the frontman, Robin Pecknold, took a personal journey that reset his passion for music. What they gave to the fans was an amazing musical journey and showmanship that impressed everyone—from technical skills with voice and instrument to people who just wanted to to close their eyes and sing along to emotional songs that have been part of their personal journeys and growth.
The show opener, Natalie Prass, brought a little bit of soul and a lot of groove to the stage. Her band really got into the flow and the energy was great. Natalie impressed with her vocals and it was great to see her joining in, playing guitar, and really getting into what she does best. Also, she was super sweet when we got to say hello at her merchandise table. Natalie Prass is an incredibly down-to-earth artist, which is so refreshing. I will definitely be adding her to my playlist rotation.
The energy started to build up and the murmurs became cheers as Fleet Foxes walked out on stage. I, personally, was excited to see how their music would translate to live. Their albums are full of layered vocals and the instruments, while quite diverse and beautifully played, seem a bit hushed but still a strong base for the almost hymnal lyrics. The members of the band were so impressive as they worked their way through instruments and harmonizing with ease. The live instruments brought so much warmth and depth to the music, just making the performance all the more opulent.
Everything seemed so artfully directed, from the amazing lights and backdrop to how the instruments moved through the hands of the members, effortlessly. I, personally, have never watched a show where members have cycled through so many instruments. Morgan Henderson, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, was amazing to watch as he would easily switch between hand percussion, flute, stand-up bass, guitar, and tuba(and probably more because I am almost sure he is a wizard). I was fascinated by how beautifully the vocals came together. The voices of Robin Pecknold and Christian Wargo flowed together, into one stream, and created pastoral melodies that were absolutely enchanting. Skyler Skjelset was impressive on the guitar, so focused on creating beautiful music and surprised me when he pulled out his bow to play, reminiscent of Jimmy Page. Casey Wescott rounded on the band, exquisitely, on the keyboards and backing vocals, keeping the pace for the songs that seemed to flow seamlessly into one another. Robin Pecknold’s solo performances during the show were beautifully emotional and inspiring.
After experiencing Fleet Foxes live, I am hoping for a full live record. I could easily spend an evening with a vinyl record of them live, filling my ears while I am in my favorite comfortable spot, at home, with my eyes closed, having the opportunity to really feel the music. For the time being, I did purchase each one of their albums on vinyl to savor.
- I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar
- Cassius, –
- Grown Ocean
- White Winter Hymnal
- Ragged Wood
- Your Protector
- The Cascades
- On Another Ocean (January/June)
- Fool’s Errand
- He Doesn’t Know Why
- Blue Ridge Mountains
- Tiger Mountain Peasant Song(Robin Pecknold solo)
- English House
- Third of May/Ōdaigahara
- The Shrine/An Argument
- Oliver James (Robin Pecknold solo)
- Drops in the River
- Helplessness Blues