High Noon Saloon in Madison, Wisconsin was full of beards, booze, and blazing tunes on September 29, 2010 when northwestern bands Blitzen Trapper and Pearly Gate Music stopped in for the night.
Touring in support of their early-summer release Destroyer of the Void, the sextet armed themselves with electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, keys, banjo, harmonica, and a smattering of other instruments to crank out a loud string of ass-kicking campfire jams. A mild country vibe and pitch-perfect vocal harmonies played into the feel of the 70s so prevalent on Destroyer, and the overall sound of the night could easily soundtrack the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding through a red-skied desert, should the need arise.
While the whole set was impressive, Blitzen Trapper hit their stride with the three-song arc of “Black River Killer” (arguably their catchiest song), “Lady on the Water”, and “Silver Moon”. Though there’s nothing remarkably different about these songs than the rest of their oeuvre, the alchemy of the three together was something to pay attention to. Also of note was the title track to their last album, Furr. Passionate and nostalgic, their set played off of and into the energy of the crowd.
Opener Pearly Gate Music was a treat – Zach Tillman delivered a set of quiet, deliberate story-songs interlaced with dry banter delivered with a lilt and patter similar to Peter Sarsgaard‘s style of speaking. One of the night’s highlights was Tillman’s cover of The Kinks’ “Lola“. Smoothed out and understand, it played more like a love song instead of a raucous retelling of a crazy night.
PARTIAL SET LIST: God & Suicide, Destroyer of the Void, Evening Star, The Tree, Below the Hurricane, Black River Killer, Lady On the Water, Silver Moon, The Man Who Would Speak True, Taking It Easy Too Long, Furr, Dragon’s Song, Sadie, Sleepytime in the Western World
ENCORE: Not Your Lover, Big Black Bird