There is nothing like a night of good old rock and roll. After a six-week nationwide tour, The Belle Brigade, Blitzen Trapper and Dawes ended their journey with a final show last Thursday. Co-headliners Blitzen Trapper and Dawes’ alternative country-rock sounds have drawn quite a large following. Rockers and hippies alike joined forces at the Music Box to enjoy the groups’ classic rock sounds.
In an imaginary musical marriage, Led Zeppelin’s edge and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s folksy twangs had a baby. Taken a step further, that baby procreated with Tom Petty’s voice. Blitzen Trapper would be the Led-Skynyrd grandchild’s name. The notion of this prodigy grandchild instantly came to mind as Blitzen breezed through their first few songs “Sleepytime in the Western World,” “Astronaut,” and “American Goldwing.” Powerful piano pounding through “Astronaut” was pleasantly accompanied by twangy guitar harmonies. The sextet’s lead vocalist Eric Earley definitely added a stimulating element to the song, making it sound livelier than the studio version. Trading between songs from their new album American Goldwing and Furr, they kept the large crowd dancing and swaying to the songs, both old and new.
Audience members cheered for the familiar harmonica intro of “American Goldwing.” Minus the laser sound effects shooting after each verse of the song, this was when they exhibited most of their country flavor though the travel story lyrics and hooks like “I know, I know” and “Oh, Lord, Oh, Lord.” Next, Earley pays homage to the Blitzen’s peers, dedicating the next song “My Hometown” to The Belle Brigade and Dawes. Moving into a mellower tune, Earley starts “Furr” with only his voice and some delicate strums of his acoustic guitar. After the first verse, he was accompanied by Marty Marquis’s backup vocals and clashes of the tambourine. The sweet melody of the song was not to be outdone, however, by powerful lyrics like “You better be sure if you’re making God a liar.”
Between songs, Earley mentions that this was Blitzen Trapper’s first time playing at the Music Box, “and we’re digging it.” Maintaining the soft mood of the night, they peppered in a few more songs from American Goldwing, including “Fletcher” and “Love the Way You Walk Away.” In the romantic “Love the Way,” Earley’s harmonica was reminiscent of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” It was a tune that the audience couldn’t help nod their heads to. With a song as catchy as “Black River Killer,” it is no wonder why Blitzen Trapper draws such a large crowd. They closed out the set with fan favorites “Street Fighting in the Sun” and “Wild Mountain Nation.” Without fail, Blitzen Trapper delivered a satisfying rock show.
Dawes took to the stage to round out the night with “When You Call My Name” from North Hills and “Coming Back to a Man” from their album Nothing Is Wrong, released earlier this year. Tay Straithairn’s keybords sounded positively melodic against the heavy bass drum pangs in “When You Call My Name.” The strong beat built anticipation for a fulfilling set. Even though front man Taylor Goldsmith admitted that the long tour had taken a toll on his voice, he still held his own throughout the night. He greeted the audience, “Hello there, Los Angeles. We’ve missed you so much!”
As they moved into “If I Wanted Someone” and “Million Dollar Bill,” from their most recent record, the folk rockers cast a spell over the audience. The slow guitar intro of “Million Dollar Bill” sounded like that of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” People were entranced by Goldsmith and Straithairn’s harmonies. This familiar guitar sequence returned when they played “So Well,” and the crowd eagerly cheered them on with hoots and howls throughout the song.
Perhaps the best portion of the night came when Dawes collaborated with other members of the tour. Goldsmith welcomed Ryan Richter from Belle Brigade to the stage to accompany them on slide guitar for “My Way Back Home” and “A Little Bit of Everything.” Though Goldsmith’s voice was starting to fade, the qualified team of musicians on stage overcompensated with strong backup vocals and interesting compositions. Later, they brought up Joey Stevens on drums and Blitzen Trapper to fill out the sound in their final songs “When My Time Comes” and their cover of Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.” The big finish came when Goldsmith left the last of the singing up to the audience, and without fail, they gladly stepped in and belted out the lyrics. From the organ solos to the jamming partnership of the co-headliners, the long night was definitely worth the time.