Sunday, October 11, 2015

Blitzen Trapper at the Bowery Ballroom

Eric Earley
The band that would become Blitzen Trapper began as an experimental progressive psychedelic band called Garmonbozia in 2000 in Portland, Oregon. By 2003, Garmonbozia evolved into the more country and folk rock quintet Blitzen Trapper, presently consisting of Eric Earley (vocals/guitar/banjo/harmonica/keyboard), Erik Menteer (guitar/keyboard), Marty Marquis (guitar/keyboard/melodica), Michael Van Pelt (bass), and Brian Adrian Koch (drums/harmonica). Blitzen Trapper achieved initial success with 2007's Wild Mountain Nation album. Blitzen Trapper released its eighth studio album, All Across This Land, on October 2, 2015.

At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Blitzen Trapper held close to its new album, only touching down lightly on the four mid-career albums that established the band. Performing 23 songs, Blitzen Trapper honed in largely on country-rock twang and yet spread out from soft acoustic songs to blazing, hard-pounding southern rock. Bandleader Eric Earley, who began playing music at the age of three, wrote most of the band's music, but the set included covers of the Beatles, Townes Van Zandt and Thin Lizzy. Guitar licks that recalled the Grateful Dead and an occasional funky Band-like groove occasionally gave way to chunky Lynyrd Skynard-styled hooks. Early often sang with fiery urgency, a tone that was sporadically lightened by his fellow band members' multi-part harmonies. Menteer on guitar and Marquis on organ frequently filled out the songs with rolling leads. Bordering on jam band ethos, Blitzen Trapper mined the sounds of America and balanced inventive ensemble arrangements for a rocking set.

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