From left: Michael Van Pelt, Brian Koch, Eric Earley, Drew Laughery, and Marty Marquis of Blitzen Trapper
After nodding to the crowd of frowning, crew-cut sporting lesbians that appears to congregate more frequently in the parking lot of Community Gospel Church than within it’s gay-friendly doors, I walked the short but sketchy route to Walter’s to see one of my recent personal faves: Blitzen Trapper.
Tickets were $8 at the door, and the smile I received at the ticket counter when I presented my hands to be x-ed out was the first sign of the night’s terrifying reality: at 18, I was the youngest concert-goer there. Sweet.
Normally this would have sucked just enough for me to leave, but I instead opted to wait around, sip my water, and watch as the crowd collectively lowered their risk of Parkinson’s.
Sacco opened the show at 9:30 (the requisite 30 minutes later than the time posted at the door) to the amount of fan-fare one would expect as a random opener on a Wednesday night.
Actually, the only person who seemed really into Sacco from the beginning was a cowboy boots wearing cougar. Lead singer Marshall stuck in there though, aware that no one knew who they were and that the crowd of about forty had really come to see Blitzen Trapper and David Vandervelde.
Sacco played an all-acoustic set which, though consistently pretty good, picked up slightly after the aforementioned cougar-in-boots bought the guys a couple of Walter’s $2 Hump Day Drink Specials. “No clear liquor” was the band’s only request.
They kept their set short and sweet, and, sadly, left the venue before Blitzen Trapper had finished.
After a quick swap of guitars and amps, Blitzen Trapper took the stage.
For the uninitiated, Blitzen Trapper is a band out of Portland whose energy, attitude, and incredible niceness (like that their fellow Portland, Oregonians The Thermals and Menomena) make for a great show. I am beginning to believe that all artists should come from Portland.
Vocalist and guitarist Eric Earley, whose voice is reminiscent of The Shins’ James Mercer, leads the band and the rest of the group is comprised of Erik Menteer (guitar, keyboard), Michael VanPelt (bass), Brian Koch (drums), Drew Laughery (keyboard), and Marty Marquis (vocals, keys, maracas).
The sextet filled Walter’s 15’x25’ stage easily, though the tight quarters did nothing to lessen the spastic dancing of Marquis – who, unless he did laundry on the way down from Dallas yesterday, and has a very tight wear-wash-wear cycle, has worn the same yellow Coor’s “Glass of ‘76” shirt twice in a row – a fact I dismissed once I caught a glimpse of his maroon Chums. What a man.
BT played a solid set, covering the majority of their new album Wild Mountain Nation, as well as crowd-pleaser “Texaco” and a few others off of their 2003 self-titled debut.
Jumping styles between energetic stomps like “Wild Mountain Nation” and more soulful, borderline surf-rock, Blitzen Trapper kept the crowd on their toes. Towards the middle of the set, the guys brought it down to about 30 bpm on a track that Laughery wrote, channeling the Flaming Lips in the best way possible.
One David Vandervelde fan who I talked to at the bar early on in the night even came up to me, rubbing my back a little too much and, grinning, said, “You’re right! Who are these guys? They are good…”
I inched slowly away from that creeper as the band led into “Appletrees” and “Reno” to end the set.
After their show, the band manned the merch table, which featured thrift-store threads silk-screened by hand by Erik Menteer. The band seemed excited, if not a little bit overwhelmed, by the love they got from the fans who surrounded them for autographs.
“I love Houston,” Earley said as we talked, smiling warmly as he rolled a cigarette – the end of a good night.
Buy Blitzen Trapper’s Wild Mountain Nation here.