February 13, 2012

The Story I Heard … An Evening With Blind Pilot At The Haunt

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The audience grew old in its impatience, but rediscovered its youthful nature as the band it had been waiting for humbly strolled on to the stage. The youth of the crowd was not held so much in the majority of local students, but in the juvenile enthusiasm of even the sparsely sprinkled older couples, pleased to engage in song and the carefree sway of dance.

Last Saturday, Blind Pilot sweetly serenaded the audience at the Haunt with its emotional lullabies and melodic epiphanies.  It seemed that all instruments aligned in genuine harmony, bringing a liberating introspection to those lucky enough to witness it.

The opening band had big shoes to fill, but it did an exceptional job stepping in.  The Barr Brothers, a foursome with a folksy feel from Montreal, were intellectually stimulating in more ways than one.  They brought more thought-provoking lyrics and instrumental innovation than any contemporary band in recent memory.  Bells, a triangle, harmonica and a circular wind-chime-esque device, all culminated in an impressive duet between an acoustic guitar and harp. The Barr Brothers were grateful and quiet in their interactions with the audience, which stirred in anticipation for the act to come.

The instrumental diversity of the Barr Brothers is perhaps only rivaled by the one-man-show of Andrew Bird, and Blind Pilot of course, who integrated a plethora of enticing musical tschokses flawlessly, including a pump organ, trumpet, Appalachian dulcimer (think a vertically drawn out guitar) and an array of banjos.

More than anything, the members of Blind Pilot are storytellers. Their songs are threaded with experiences and screen shots of emotion that compose poignant lullabies conducive of self-analysis and an uncontrollable urge to sing their lyrics as if they were your own.

“Keep You Right,” from their new album We are the Tide, satiated the crowd”s restlessness after staring at the empty stage for what seemed like ages after the departure of the Barr Brothers. The arrival of Nebeker and his assuaging genuine voice focused the audience immediately.

Nebeker, albeit shyly and humbly, paused to chat with his audience as he adjusted the tuning on his guitar and shifted the capo, making small talk with his audience about the band’s Twitter account, nonchalant in his comfortable familiarity: “so I heard someone was sledding to the show?”

The rusty-bearded bassist twirled with his apparatus as Nebeker caressed his Gretsch guitar emancipating virtuous truths of sentiment, singing “I Buried a Bone.” The flow of lyrics from the song “Oviedo” to “The Story I Heard,” only interrupted by the audiences increasingly demanding interjections (though always good-natured) for “BANJO!” And alas, the band caved to the craving for a banjo.

Blind Pilot straddles the genre boundary of folk and pop — songs catchy enough to stick, but also lyrically brilliant, thoughtfully challenging and mellow in their folksiness.  There was an obvious chemistry not only in the band, but also between the audience and the artist, refreshingly natural and unforced. The indie group challenges all the processed and technologically saturated sounds that are quickly picking up speed. The band is in no way “crunchy granolas” to which many are so averse, but rather Blind Pilot provides the spiritual essence within the individual with something like the reinvention of the raw. Blind Pilot reintroduces a genuine quality to music.

Original Author: Sam Martinez