Live Reviews

Blitzen Trapper at Webster Hall 6/16

Amy Rose Spiegel :: Friday, June 18th, 2010 5:00 pm

Blitzen Trapper have become a full-fledged classic rock band. It was hard to pinpoint when that dawned on me as I watched them play on Wednesday night in NYC’s Webster Hall. Was it while I was salivating over the unarguably incredible guitar solos? Maybe it happened as I shook my head at the bland, fortune-cookie-vague lyrics, which were in the league of those trotted out by every band in the genre.

In any case, it was definitely confirmed when I looked out at the crowd, which consisted of good-natured dudes in Led Zeppelin t-shirts and their paramours. I think the new rule should be that when fans start showing up at your shows wearing the shirts of the band you most admire, you’ve probably ripped them off a little too hard. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the case when I saw Blitzen Trapper at Webster Hall on Wednesday night.

Let me preface this review with this disclaimer: I am predisposed to dislike anything that takes place at Webster Hall. It’s fucking ugly, and the radio ads that boast that it holds “the hottest ladies in New York” or whatever on the weekends are depressing (and false). That’s far from Blitzen Trapper’s fault, but I would have liked to see them much better in a more personal venue that better reflected the band’s energy. How are you going to take a Northwestern dude-rock band and not have them play in a spot that serves good whiskey? The band needs to move back to smaller venues in order to keep the crowd enthusiastic.

Well, at least the band members themselves were having fun. You could tell by the noisy shred with which guitarist Eric Earley would punctuate the space between songs, as if he simply didn’t want to stop playing even for a minute, or the frenzied shaking of a rasta-colored maraca by Drew Laughery, the keyboardist. “That guy loves being in a band,” my friend whispered to me as we watched him throw down. The same could be said of any member of Blitzen Trapper, which can be really infectious.

“Dragon’s Song,” the new single off of the band’s recent release Destroyer of the Void, dragged its feet, but the band easily won the crowd back with harmonica-driven jams and a great encore. Their drummer, Brian Adrian Koch, has always and will always slay at what he does, and when he’s allowed to take the reins of a song, you can tell by looking at the crowd, which will suddenly start moving. For all its missteps, Blitzen Trapper is truly a good band. Maybe when they ditch the stadium-style grandeur, they’ll be considered a great one.