Blitzen Trapper at The Independent

After missing both their shows in the Bay Area back in April, JBQ and I caught up with Blitzen Trapper in San Francisco, Sunday night, at The Independent venue. Aside from having our hair smelling like pot (or something) at the end, we had a great time during our stay (at least I did). The sound at The Independent was definitely better than it was at the Cafe du Nord venue a few months ago.

I had my first big personal surprise right after walking in. We decided to sit toward one of the sides, next to another random couple. I kindly said “hi”. And the guy replied “Hi, Eugenia”.

WTF ???

My first thought was that I had a tag with my name, I so quickly gazed through my breasts. Nope. No tag. At that point my face probably looked like a surprised LOLcat.

Chris McKillop“, the guy said. Suddenly it all made sense. Chris and I have been geeking out online for many years about OS stuff when I used to write for (Chris has worked for QNX, Apple’s iPhone, and he’s now at Palm working on WebOS) but I had never met him in person. I had even interviewed Chris back in 2003, when he was still working for QNX. 10 seconds in, I remembered reading once that he’s also a fan of the Trappas. I asked him how he recognized me, and he said that… I look the same as in my Facebook picture (I am sure it’s my crazy witch-hair :o).

To make the long story short, the world is a very small place.

Later, I bought a Blitzen Trapper t-shirt, since ther was no new tour CD available. Drew Laughery (keyboards) was a very sweet person to talk to. Later, I quickly talked to Erik Menteer (guitar/keys) telling him that their Black River Killer video was amazing. He said that no more videos are planned for the Furr album, as the band will now focus on their next one. Both Drew and Erik were very kind and cool to talk to.

20 minutes later, the supporting band, the Wye Oak, took the stage. They sang about 5-6 songs, which were pretty good, but not exactly exceptional. Except “Take it In”, their main hit (free, legal download), and their last song, the rest kind of felt flat to me — not enough melodic variation. JBQ liked them more than I did. One thing is for sure, Andy Stack should be given a medal for being able to play the drums with one hand and one foot, the keyboards with the other hand, and either supporting vocals or using woodwind instruments with his mouth! A true instrumentalist super-hero.

Then, when the Trappas took the stage, I moved directly below the stage, and they rocked my world. The band started very strongly with two very hard rock songs, and then they became a bit more folky and mellow. The band obviously had fun, and joked around a lot.

In between of one of these songs I professed my love for the band’s leader & singer, Eric Earley, by yelling his name, sending him a kiss and winking at him. He saw me that one time, and he cracked a smile, hehe. I’ve been infatuated with his genius since earlier this year when I read that he was homeless (I guess my motherly instinct took over).

Going back to the gig, the Trappas have amazing energy on the stage. Towards the end, where they played mostly rock songs, the audience went wild. However, both JBQ and I agreed that the middle part of the gig, where Eric did a few mellow folk solos, were the weak part of the experience. Eric Earley is an amazing writer and performer (his vocal range is amazing), but the mellow stuff took too long. In my opinion, only Black River Killer and Furr of that bunch should have been performed, and the rest of the songs should have been a selection of their more hard rock feel. If the crowd’s reactions are any indication, I think most would agree with me.

At some point Marty (guitar) started singing a capella, and that was much fun. Then, Marty asked the crowd which song they would like to listen, so I yelled: “Sci-fi Kid“. Yup, that request was mine!!! Eric started playing the song, and then the unthinkable happened: he forgot the lyrics and he stopped the song! Oh my! See, the band doesn’t play that song live anymore, and that’s a big shame. Sci-fi Kid is my favorite song of the Trappas (with Gold for Bread coming second), and I believe that if they were to write more such songs they would become super-stars, since these two songs are more modern-sounding than their usual ’70s-styled music.

I was able to take video snippets from about 1/3 of the gig, but then the Independent’s staff asked me to turn off my camera. Oh, well, their loss. “Independent” my ass.

There was also one brand new song that the Eric performed (“The Man Who Would Speak True“), which I thought it was pretty good. However, I believe that the song could be produced in a way that sounds more modern, and by using harsh electric guitars in the chorus instead of the harmonica. If the final album version uses the harmonica like with Furr, I believe that this can be one big loss for the Blitzen Trapper in terms of winning out the alternative rock stations/fans.

Towards the end, the tempo picked up again with hard rock, and the crowd went crazy. Overall, this was the best live experience I had in my life so far. I love the energy the Trappers bring on the stage, and I hope their next album makes them even more successful. Catch them up if they are coming to your town, they worth the attention!

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