Due to everyone on the Main Stage getting pushed back because of Blonde Redhead canceling, Blitzen Trapper took the stage right as the sun was wreaking havoc on the audience’s vision, hanging behind the stage to the west, about a half hour from going down. Though we had to squint, hold our hands up to blot out the sun, or duck behind the tallest guy around us, Blitzen Trapper was up there through the bright haze, playing the sun closer and closer to the horizon.
Blitzen Trapper on stage consisted of an acoustic guitar player, an electric guitar player, a bassist, a keyboardist, a drummer, and front man Eric Early, who played acoustic and electric guitar, and occasionally the keys and a harp. He sang too, of course, and his Dylan-esque style of finishing words and lines with a lazy-sounding but concerted lack of enunciation is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Blitzen Trapper’s unique alt-folk-country.
Blitzen Trapper clearly draws from a variety of different influences, and their set reflected this, sounding like everything from Neil Young to Bob Dylan to classic Southern rock to Elton John (when Early was playing keys and signing), on top of all of which they’d throw on some electronic effects, albeit sparsely. They played evenly spaced, narratively-structured songs such as “Black River Killer” and “Evening Star” (Early at his most Dylan-esque) as well as more rollicking, full-bodied numbers such as “Big Black Bird” which, as with several of their songs, brought to mind The Band. They utilized their array of guitars to their full potential as well. Some songs definitely demanded two acoustic guitars, but others were more centered on Early exchanging high-charged electric licks with the other lead guitarist. Sometimes electric accentuations would be played over slower songs that were acoustically natured. This interesting juxtaposition worked and was one of the many signs throughout the night (along with, most notably, the electronic effects) that Blitzen Trapper is trying to push the envelope on the alt-country genre. There was definitely an experimental feel to a lot of what they were doing, but it was more like all the experiments had already been conducted, and these were the satisfying results.
Their set had a little bit of everything and was a satisfying conclusion to the time in the sun on Saturday. The darkness would bring !!! and Atmosphere to the Main Stage to end the night.