Keeping up with the live stream trend of creating an enjoyable concert experience for fans across the globe to enjoy during these “strange and unprecedented times,” Robin Pecknold of the mid-2000’s American indie and folk band Fleet Foxes took on the exciting new musical endeavor. On this Very Lonely Solstice Livestream, Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes was set to perform acoustic and solo live from the St. Ann & Holy Trinity church in Brooklyn, NY. His rich and powerful vocals resonated against the walls of the church with ease and poise.
Robin Pecknold is the lead singer/songwriter of Fleet Foxes, and tonight he went solo for this unplugged rendition of some fan favorites by this modern indie band. There was a chat that was active throughout the entire show, and the fans really came together and bonded over this music. Music can be such a unifying force, and the Robin Pecknold fan base was a powerful voice here. By the end of the show, fans were exchanging social media handles so they could stay in touch.
10 minutes before the live event kicked off, the screen flipped to a countdown clock in red and a beautiful image of the church’s interior. The church had architecture that was classic and regal, complete with cylindrical light fixtures that had several lights, and tall ceilings with dome shaped roofs. The choice to be in a wide open space like a church was a strong one that only emphasized the beauty in Pecknold’s voice throughout the show.
Starting off strong, Pecknold was seated in front of a majestic alter with a guitar and a mask on. Scattered throughout the room was a choir for backup vocals. Each singer was standing in a different pew, and they all had masks on. Their notes were clear and crisp, and through a mask, it was clear that they were projecting very articulately. The opening song was “Wading In Waist-High Water” from the 2020 album, Shore. The song was calming, and one of the focuses was the wide-open space that everyone was placed in. While this song was brief, it was a beautiful way to get the show started.
Fading into the next song, “Sunblind” (Shore, 2020), there was a little shift as Pecknold was now sitting by himself on an upper level of the church. The lighting was darker, and he had his mask off now. He was alone, and there was an amazing reverb effect from his guitar and voice. The church was a perfect setting for a very relaxing and laid back evening of these folky tunes. Fans in the chat were loving the acoustic sensations of the unplugged singer. It was at this point that there was even a comment along the lines of “I wish there was an entire acoustic album of this on Spotify!” These songs were short but eloquent. Each one told a story and was different from the last. Robin’s distinct and calming voice set a rustic and chill tone for the performance. The wider angels of Pecknold were shot from behind the columns of the church, which showcased the architecture yet again.
Later in the set was the song, “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” from the 2008 album Fleet Foxes. This was a very lyrically charming song. The chord progression was simple, and the tempo was a bit slower, but the effortlessness in Pecknold’s voice made this song gorgeous. His vocals were strong and powerful. This song had a fade out in the very end, which was accomplished by slower and quieter guitar picking and a gradual softness in his voice. This gave the song an eerie and almost a more mystical resolving note.
“Helplessness Blues” from the 2011 album Helplessness Blues, was another song slower in tempo, but alluring in lyrics. It was an experience that contrasted the version of the song on the album. The song on the album is actually quicker in tempo, but this slower version fit in with the fades and dramatic lights from the church. Robin performs with heart and soul, and it shines through in his music. The fans loved this choice. In the chat, it was clear that this was not something the fans had seen from him before, and they loved this dynamic contrast to what they were used to.
Towards the end of the performance, another favorite was the fun tune “A Long Way To The Past” (Shore, 2020). This lyrically pleasing song was one that stuck out to fans. They were typing the lyrics and quoting each line as Pecknold sang it. With lyrics like “we’re a long way from the past, I’ll be better off in a year or two,” a fan had commented about how they feel that this connected them to a feeling of hope. This hope was for that years from now, things will be much better than they are (and have been) lately. This audience was very vulnerable with one another and it was refreshing to see such positivity—all inspired from the music of Robin Pecknold.
Closing out the show, Robin sang the soft 2020 song, “It’s Not My Season” (Shore). This felt like a closing song almost as if to continue that idea of hope that was established earlier. This might not have been the initial goal, but having it be the outcome of such a magical performance and evening was something more powerful than the fans were expecting. This song is already acoustic on the album, so this was one that fans knew and loved just the same.
Overall, this show had very angelic undertones (and not just because it was in a church). The unplugged and acoustic sound bounced around the room very lightly. The lighting in the room suggested a very intimate setting, and from the vulnerability in the chat, it was a safe space for everyone to connect with an artist they loved. Robin Pecknold provided a shining light of hope when it was needed most.
Photo Credit: Kalyn Oyer