Published Apr 30, 2011Vancouverites struck it lucky when Fleet Foxes decided to launch their latest tour on Canada's West Coast. With no prior dates leading up to the band's appearance at the Vogue Theatre, the band were able to add this second show with ease, having both sell out in no time.
By the time openers the Cave Singers hit the stage at 8 p.m., many audience members had already ditched their seats and crowded up to the front of the packed venue. The trio, who came through town scarcely a week before for a headlining show of their own, treated those who showed up early to a gruff, rootsy blend of backwoods folk, bourbon-soaked blues and psych-inflected gospel. Between songs, vocalist Pete Quirk charmed the crowd with anecdotes about a foul-smelling melodica and being flipped off on the highway.
Once Fleet Foxes arrived, frontman Robin Pecknold explained, "This is our first proper show back for a while." Despite their time away from the stage, the band showed no signs of rustiness, and the soaring "Drops in the River" was an early highlight with its bowed guitar and double bass.
Nearly every song was laced with warm, cloud-parting harmonies that featured as many as four of the six Foxes singing at once. The wordless group vocals that introduced "Mykonos" were haunting and ghostly, while the melodies on "White Winter Hymnal" fluttered and spiralled like the snowflakes implied by the title.
The instrumental accompaniment was just as lush as the vocals, and the band members showed off their chops on violin, flute and piano. The genre-busting "An Argument" broke the band's usual pastoral folk mould with its droning intro and wailing, dissonant saxophone break.
The crowd lapped up every moment, and hailed the band with cheers as they wrapped up the performance with a one-song encore of "Helplessness Blues." Bolstered by two basses and a thundering kick drum, they finished the night in characteristic style: singing together in gorgeous group harmony.