Trampled by Turtles with Deer Tick at Commodore Ballroom, 6/30/18
It takes a special breed to play folk/bluegrass faster and harder than any metal band out there, but anyone who’s ever seen a Trampled by Turtles show knows the band is that breed.
With early hits like “Wait So Long,” an up-tempo number that hit the charts around the time of the great 2012 folk revival a la Mumford and Sons, Trampled by Turtles proved that no matter how high the other bands climbed, they had something no one else had -namely, the fastest neural synapses possible within the confines of the human body. Whatever the records are for fastest fiddle playing, mandolin picking or audience jumping, they were handily smashed to pieces last night at the Commodore Ballroom.
Tearing up the dance floor on June 30th after an hour long opening from Rhode Island folk band Deer Tick – a band with mandolins and beer and enough happy-go-lucky folksy charm to start their own commune – the Minnesota sextet rocked the room with enough energy to trigger a second Big Bang. Rolling out such faster-than-light favourites as “Codeine,” “Victory,” and of course, “Wait So Long,” Trampled by Turtles – bathed for the most part in deep blue light that cast the six band members into frantic silhouettes – broke whatever social barriers the concert-goers of Vancouver might have had, thrusting all assembled into a jumping, giggling moshing pile of happiness.
The new songs of the night off their latest album, Life is Good on the Open Road – a tongue-in-cheek title lead singer Dave Simonett elaborated on in an interview with Vancouver Weekly earlier this month – blended perfectly with the crowd favourites, bringing the energy in a continuous wave from the moment they took the stage to the moment they unstrapped their guitars and faded back into the ether.
In a touching homage to the late great Tom Petty, TBT joined Deer Tick on stage for a few songs before their main set, taking on Petty classic “Yer So Bad,” or “Tickled by Turtles” as Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick dubbed it.
Having reunited after a two year hiatus the very weekend Tom Petty passed away, TBT’s latest album is a take on the loneliness and grandeur of the open road and the endless possibility and vulnerability in setting out into the great unknown. New singles like “The Middle” and “Right Back Where We Started” tackled the duality of all things – the beauty and pain of moving on, of traveling, of growing – while maintaining that trademark TBT energy and sense of positivity throughout.
If one were looking for a lot of interluding tales of life on the road, last night probably wouldn’t have been your bag–the band barely broke the strain of songs to shout out more than a “how are you doing Vancouver” and to thank Deer Tick for capping off a fabulous tour together. That said, any time spent listening to the lyrics or flinging one’s body at the Commodore rafters was likely more than enough entertainment for even the very demanding. The message was there, the energy was fierce, and Trampled by Turtles proved no matter how popular folk music is or isn’t in the years to come, there will always be a place for them in Vancouver.