Blitzen Trapper @ The Empty Bottle, Chicago [Concert Review]

by Woody on February 23, 2009


In May of 2004, the English Football team that I support, Arsenal, put on a tour de force that was simply magical to watch. They defeated another top team, Everton by the scoreline of 7-0. They were led by one of my favorite players on all time, Dennis Bergkamp, as he pulled the strings on a magical game. They scored almost every way imaginable and it was simply a joy to behold. As I watched Blitzen Trapper the other night at The Bottle, I had the same feeling. This is a band that is firing on all cylinders you cannot help but be slack jawed watching them perform.

Mostly working off of our top album of 2008, Furr, and 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation, Blitzen Trapper blended folk, alt-country, pop and 90’s indie in the spirit of Pavement. Highlights of the night included a slowed-down, bluesy version of “Miss Spiritual Tramp” and a slightly tweaked version of “Murder Babe” with perfect vocal harmonies. “Black River Killer” has been my favorite tune from Furr, but after watching them kick out “Not Your Lover Anymore,” that may no longer be the case.

I have a bad habit of singling out one member of a band in a review, but much like that Arsenal performance in ’04, this was a true group performance. Each and every member is so damned talented – Eric Earley (guitar/vocals), Erik Menteer (guitar/keyboard), Brian Adrian Koch (drums/vocals), Michael VanPelt, (bass), Drew Laughery (keyboards), and Marty Marquis (guitar, keyboards, vocals).

At one point in the night I felt the need to scream “These Guys are the tits!” which was immediately backed by my buddy, Jefe, who said “and the balls!” You know what? They are the tits, the balls and any other superlative you can think of. I see a crapload of live music and this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in quite some time. Do yourself a favor see them now in a small venue before they leave them behind.

Blitzen Trapper – Gold For Bread

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

DBT Chicago February 24, 2009 at 7:55 am

i figured this was coming. i had to eat my 7 p.m. ticket for some deadlines that snuck up on me. still pretty pissed.
nothing’s stopping me from alberta cross saturday.

oz February 24, 2009 at 9:26 am

And how about Alela Diane opening?

Woody February 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

Alela was fantastic. I was saving that for the review of her excellent album.

Starkey February 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Tremendous show, tremendous band. Miss Spiritual Tramp was the highlight for me . It’s so Odelay, from the lyrics to rhyme patterns. That Earley guy is very talented. All in all, best show of the year so far for me.

Kyle February 25, 2009 at 7:43 am

I’m glad to see you enjoyed them, i’m on my way out to see them tonight in Northampton, MA. I’ve been really wanting to see these guys play, glad to hear they are a great live band.

Vanessa February 25, 2009 at 9:50 am

Did anyone see Blitzen when they played at Schubas with Horsefeathers? Any comparison?
When i saw them at schubas w/HFs i had a similar reaction to Oz, incl when he switched the show’s energy and sat down at his piano and kicked out that ballad Not your lover anymore. Though i really liked them and they put on a great live show when i saw them, i refrained from seeing them again when they played at EB…and i think the reason is that i thought their second show would be very similar (perhaps even identical) to the first their first i saw. not sure if there’s any validation to that but for some reason that’s the vibe i got

Vanessa February 25, 2009 at 9:53 am

oops- i meant woody!

Woody February 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I actually caught the flu so I missed that Schubas show. I usually can’t/won’t travel down from the burbs to see a band more than once on a tour or per album. Its tough answering the 6AM wake-up call with the kids so I try to pick my spots. That being said, if Blitzen Trapper were playing Schubas tomorrow, I would probably go. They were that good.

Vanessa February 25, 2009 at 3:35 pm


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