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Blitzen Trapper Can Cure Your Hangover

October 12th, 2009

Blitzen Trapper – The Bowery Ballroom – October 11, 2009

(Photo: Jade Harris)

(Photo: Jade Harris)

I almost didn’t make it to the show. As evidenced by my throbbing headache (like a loop of Bootsy Collins’ bass solos playing in my brain) and my inability to hydrate, I woke up yesterday morning feeling the ill effects of staying out way too late and drinking entirely too much on Saturday night. And then my football team lost, disappointingly. (Is there any other way?) So all I wanted to do was go home and have a Chinese Meltdown, which is basically just an inordinate amount of Chinese-food delivery and me having a threesome with my TV and couch. But I missed Blitzen Trapper’s previous show at The Bowery Ballroom due to a stomach virus, so, against my better judgment, I set out for the Lower East Side on Sunday night.

“Of course it’s our pleasure to play again at The Bowery. It’s one of the all-time spots,” said Marty Marquis (guitar, keys and vocals). “You guys are lucky.” Blitzen Trapper is a six-piece band out of Portland, Ore. They self-released their first three albums, but their fourth disc, Furr (out on Sub Pop), is a revelation of guitar-driven roots-y folk with bits of Dylan, Neil Young and Wilco mixed in. Sometimes a lead singer can come off as being the whole band, but while frontman Erich Earley is a talented guitarist with a big, smooth voice, this is not the case with Blitzen Trapper. The group is made up of six solid musicians, who took turns harmonizing, playing guitar and keys and a slew of percussion instruments—at one point there was even a melodica involved—as they ran through much of the material on Furr, like “Sleepytime in the Western World,” “Lady on the Water” and “Furr,” which built slowly as the crowd’s nods gave way to whistling and stomping, hooting and hollering.

After a 75-minute set, the band took a short break before returning for five more tunes, including what Marquis labeled “a tasteful slice of ‘The Gambler.’” During the encore, the band became more animated and the music sounded different, like it was unhinged and alive. And I realized that for the first time all day, so was I. —R. Zizmor