Blitzen Trapper shows Vancouver how to be Wild & Reckless

Blitzen Trapper at the Biltmore Cabaret 15/6/17

Photo by Jessica Vandergulik
Photo by Jessica Vandergulik

The Blitzen Trapper boys—who hail from Portland, Oregon—have been at the music game together for 17 years now. And instead of burning out they seem to continue to sprint ahead in full creative force. Vancouver Weekly spoke with frontman Eric Earley prior to the group’s June 15th Biltmore Cabaret show, and it was clear from the musician’s musings that the inspiration is still pouring in. What fans who turn up to the shows get in this portion of Blitzen’s career is a finely crafted set that does not forget the innocent critical darling days of Wild Mountain Nation, while also touching on the group’s profound love of Neil Young’s musical style and their upcoming work from the likes of Wild & Reckless. True to their chosen titles, Blitzen Trapper loves the wild road life and the wild road certainly loves them.  

Blitzen synth-maker and guitarist Marty Marquis opened up the night with some of his solo work, reflecting openly on his choice to stay in Portland rather than move to big cities like New York where bands like his often feel the need to make the pilgrimage to. This certainly contributes to the group’s rural road-lovin’ feel. Blitzen Trapper itself got going right away at the Biltmore with rounds of “Saturday Nite” and “Thirsty Man”—from the albums Furr and VII respectively—hinting to the audience that that Thursday night would be filled with some pretty spectacular guitar playing. But more than anything that the first song gave the Biltmore a taste of disco, a genre that Blitzen often interweaves with classic rock. “Thirsty Man” took listeners to the more psychedelic side of their musical spectrum, with long instrumental portions and a bass-heavy inclination. Earley was at peak energy, and his band was right there with him. Wearing a vintage shirt and denim, Earley strikes viewers as small-town guy straight out of the 70s–think Dazed and Confused to the tune of folk rock.

“Love the Way You Walk Away” really began the high point of the evening. But it was the group’s foray into the mega beloved Furr tracks that hit Biltmore attendees on a gut level. The first of these was hook-heavy “God & Suicide”; one of Blitzen’s most fantastically written tracks, “Black River Killer” is so seductive with its dark crime narrative. This song, more than others, showcases the group’s astounding affinity for storytelling and world building. And of course there was title track “Furr”–this is where the audience took over, belting the Rolling Stone-praised lyrics at the top of their lungs. The band then told the audience that that was one of the best sing-alongs to the hit track they’ve ever had despite the years and multiple plays.

The group would move on through “Wild & Reckless” and “Rock and Roll (Was Made For You)”–among others–with Earley pulling out the harmonica and subsequently killing it. Of course. The encore began with Furr ballad “Lady On the Water” and ended with “All Across This Land”, marking a vast compilation of songs covered during the evening. Blitzen Trapper is one of those groups that stays accessible to fans and simply doesn’t deter from the quality they have become known for. Perhaps this is due to staying rooted both with each other and with their hometown. Regardless, concert-goers can always expect a stellar rock show from the guys mixed in with the promise of more wild stories in the form of song.