Review: Fleet Foxes at Merriweather Post Pavilion

When Fleet Foxes quietly resurfaced earlier this year, I was reminded of my former adoration for them and of the place they once held in my life. My love for the band came from a place of sadness and of pretentiousness. The latter stemmed from being dubbed *hip* for liking Fleet Foxes by the group of *hipsters* at my small, liberal arts college in Wisconsin. The former came from using the band's music to cope with the darkness that was clouding my life at the time. The stunning arrangements and Robin Pecknold's inimitable, soothing vocals turned each song into a hug when I was sad; they were my lullabies when I couldn't sleep. That darkness eventually lifted and Fleet Foxes lost their place in my life as new bands filled my ears.

That was 6 years ago; today I’m 25, I’m in a different place in life, and I realized I hear Fleet Foxes differently now. When they took the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night this was abundantly clear. I was immediately brought to my feet, filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and excitement. The familiar chords of “Grown Ocean” began and the energy in the crowd was electric. The narrative of darkness and pretension that once defined my experience with this band was gone; I never knew I could dance so hard at a Fleet Foxes show. As I looked around the pavilion I saw my joyous feeling mirrored by others who were headbanging, smiling, singing, dancing, and holding their friends close.

Just as I am in a different place now, so too is Fleet Foxes. The past six years seems to have only made them stronger and more in tune with who they are and why they began their musical journey all those years ago. The chemistry among the band members is obvious and is that special type that comes with deep friendship and rich history. Robin Pecknold’s vocals soared on tracks like “He Doesn’t Know Why” and especially on “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” when the band left the stage, leaving just him and his guitar. Both "Mykonos" and "White Winter Hymnal" were explosive live and had the crowd on their feet. Favorites from their latest album, “Crack-Up” in the set included “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar,” “Fool’s Errand,” “On Another Ocean (January / June)," and "If You Need To, Keep Time On Me." I left the show with a full heart and was reminded of a different type of love for Fleet Foxes, one that stems from reverence and awe.

All photos by Cina Nguyen for Capitol Sound DC.

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