Fresh off the May 3 release of their sophomore album "Helplessness Blues," madrigal-infused indie darlings Fleet Foxes delivered a fine-tuned performance to a delighted, sold-out crowd last night (May 18) at NYC's United Palace Theater.
Despite the blustery storm outside (Fleet Foxes hail from the northwest, but that didn't stop frontman Robin Pecknold from making cracks about the weather via the band's Twitter account before the show), the audience showed no misgivings; their warm appreciation of the bearded Seattle sextet's mellow presence characterized the evening.
Supported by fellow Seattlites the Cave Singers, Pecknold and the gang delivered an hour and a half set characterized by well-orchestrated transitions (the most notable was that between "White Winter Hymnal" and "Ragged Wood") and a comedic, almost fraternal rapport between band members and the crowd.
At one interval, Pecknold obliged a crowd member who begged him to take off his beanie, saying, "I just want to please you people." At another, drummer J. Tillman noted that Fleet Foxes song requests sounded distinctly like dramatic lines from a "Lord of the Rings" movie, shaking his fist in the air as he shouted, "Sun it Rises!" And when Pecknold sheepishly apologized for flubbing a guitar riff, one audience member interrupted, "You didn't fuck up that song -- it was great!" to a round of applause.
Video: Fleet Foxes, "Helplessness Blues," United Palace Theater, May 18
Toward the end of the night, the audience punctuated the set with a spontaneous standing ovation, to Pecknold's repeated thanks. Ending the night with the title single from "Helplessness," Fleet Foxes wrapped up a performance that demonstrated the band's irrefutable staying power.
Here is Fleet Foxes' 5/18 setlist:
"Drops In The River"
"Sim Sala Bim"
"Tiger Mountain Peasant Song"
"White Winter Hymnal"
"He Doesn't Know Why"
"The Shrine / An Argument"
"Blue Spotted Tail"
"Blue Ridge Mountains"