Blitzen Trapper Get Their Twang On

Skyler Reid/Staff

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A little known fact: Noise Pop not only provides some of the best live music you'll hear, but also some valuable lessons. The first is that Bottom of the Hill is really just a long way to spell "shitty"-from the poor acoustics to the surrounding area. The second is that the more alcohol the crowd consumes, the better the music.

And the third is that country-tinged bands put on fucking electric show.

Surrounded by a setting that could be best described as striptease-meets-thriller, an exuberant-and by the end of the night, drunk-crowd was presented with an eclectic array of music, culminating when Portland-based Blitzen Trapper annihilated the crowd with smooth country and fiery jolts that kept the audience off the floor for their nearly 20-song set.

The night was a case of saving the best for last, but unfortunately, it was also a case of having the worst go first. Although opening act Sholi earnestly thrashed and pounded for 30 minutes, the vocals were completely inaudible and soon the music began sounding like one long electric mantra that rarely deviated from its duple meter.

However, as noted, the tipsiness of the crowd directly correlated with musical quality. As the alcohol went down, the second act, Here Here, fired up the room with gorgeous, lush pop.

But the gorgeousness only became better when the rustic Fleet Foxes, an outfit from Seattle, took the stage. Both their music and looks evoked a kind of farmer-meets-hippie style, with hair that recalled mountain man John Muir and light guitar and mandolin instrumentation. While their ethereal folk sound and religious harmonies dominated most of the set, the quintet also proved they could rock with songs like "Drops in the River." Though the band was surprised when someone requested one of their songs, their performance proved that they will not stay underground for long.

And then if the Fleet Foxes didn't prove it, Blitzen Trapper proved that country-rock bands can surely kick ass. Though starting light with "Country Caravan," the band began shredding early with "Murder Babe." The rest of the night would switch between beautiful country constructions and eardrum-shattering jams. The softer songs were just as effective as they were on record, and frontman Eric Earley blowing live harmonica licks was indeed charming.

However, the band's harder songs were the real wonders. "Devil's a Go-Go" was remarkably energetic, with the band nearly setting their strings on fire with their speed; the performance evoked the destructive days of live rock 'n' roll-minus the destruction. The undeniable favorite, however, was "Wild Mountain Nation," which represented both the rock and country side of the band. Throughout the night, the crowd was not only won over by the music but also by Earley, who snatched attention with his poses, hand motions and physical freakouts on his guitar.

After leaving the stage following their last song, the band returned with the obligatory encore-which almost didn't happen, as many plastered patrons had started leaving, only to come back once the music blasted again. (After playing their first encore piece, "Futures and Follies," keyboardist Marty Marquis made sure to thank "those who were also clapping before.") However, no one moved as the band finished the night with one of their finest: the breathtakingly beautiful and soothing "Dreamers and Giants." And that was the fourth lesson of the day: The best way to say "good night" is with a lullaby.

Rock Rajesh's socks off at [email protected]

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