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Review: Fleet Foxes at Florida Theatre

By Dargan Thompson, Contributing Writer

It was easy to tell who was headed to the Fleet Foxes concert downtown Tuesday night. Skinny jeans, V-necks and hipster glasses abounded as I parked my car and walked to the Florida Theatre.

Never having been in the Florida Theatre, I was excited to find such a beautiful venue in the middle of downtown Jacksonville. The theater holds fewer than 2,000 people, so even my balcony seats didn’t feel too far from the stage. The seats are crammed in, though. When I sat down, my shins were touching the back of the seat in front of me, and the girl sitting there kept messing with her hair, causing it to brush my knees. Awkward.

The opening act was The Walkmen, who I had never heard of before. The lead singer, Hamilton Leithauser, sang his heart out while looking super dapper in a khaki suit. They were good, but it was pretty obvious from the buzz of conversation during the quieter songs that most of the audience was just waiting for Fleet Foxes to come on. The Walkmen’s set was about 40 minutes, and then there was a 30-minute intermission while the techies set up for Fleet Foxes. The projection screen on stage displayed the message “You are at a musical concert. Congratulations.”

The lights dimmed and everyone hushed in anticipation. Fleet Foxes entered to screams and loud applause. The first song it played, “The Plains/Bitter Dancer,” helped build anticipation even more as there are no words until over two minutes in. By the time the band started into its second song, I had a huge grin on my face. Fleet Foxes is every bit as good live as its CDs would suggest.

The band was definitely living up to the crowd’s expectations. A section down from us, a girl kept standing up and swaying, arms held out, beer in hand, unable to contain her enthusiasm. I was just glad she wasn’t sitting in front of me. Others that stood up were shouted at to sit down. It was obvious the fans were serious about seeing, as well as hearing, the band.

“Do you all know each other or something?” asked frontman Robin Pecknold. “You’re all like telling each other to sit down and shut up!”

One heckler who shouted profanities during a beautiful rendition of “Blue Spotted Tail” had about 1,000 people ready to fight him. Thankfully, an usher chased him out before Pecknold played a new song, saying “I will just weep if anyone yells ‘F— you!’ during this!”

Overall, all of the band members’ talent really impressed me. Fleet Foxes is my favorite band, so obviously, I know they’re musically talented, but it was cool to see members of the band switching between several different instruments and singing in perfect harmony all the while — even the drummer.

I’ve been to a few concerts where seeing the band live wasn’t too different from just listening to its CD with a little visual aid. Fleet Foxes was definitely not one of those. The band played all its songs I love but with enough changes to make them sound slightly different than the recorded versions.

And, of course, the best part of seeing a band live is audience interaction. When one girl shouted “it’s my birthday!” the band launched into an impromptu version of The Beatles “Birthday,” which made me extremely happy because it was “My birthday, too, yeah!”

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