Fleet Foxes Go ‘Live at the Artists Den’
The sun was just beginning to come down as the doors were opened at Knockdown Center and about 150 people were invited in to see a secret Fleet Foxes concert. The set, filmed live to be aired on Live from the Artists Den, a music-based television show, was in support of Fleet Foxes’ upcoming album, Crack-Up, and was the band’s first live show in New York since 2011. It was also my first time seeing the band perform since 2011, when I saw their concert in Los Angeles in support of their sophomore album, Helplessness Blues.
But the indie-folk band seemed different on this night, even more different than a six-year hiatus might suggest. A lot has changed for the band in that span of time. Josh Tillman, the band’s former drummer, left the group following their 2011 tour to work on his solo career, also citing personal problems with lead singer Robin Pecknold. Since then, Tillman has made a name for himself as Father John Misty, and has released three successful albums since Fleet Foxes’ 2011 release of Helplessness Blues.
Tillman did more than drum for Fleet Foxes when he was in the band, however. As a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer, Tillman provided another voice to the band’s already-lush harmonies, complementing Pecknold’s singing perfectly. Tillman’s new replacement in the band is a technically-sound drummer, but lacks Tillman’s noticeable personality in his playing. He also doesn’t sing. The band’s harmonies, in turn, are left up to Pecknold and guitarist Skyler Skjelset. What were once three-part harmonies are dropped to two-part ones; what were once two-part harmonies sung between Pecknold and Tillman are now left for Pecknold to sing alone.
But that didn’t stop Pecknold and the returning Fleet Foxes from playing their older work. Over the two-hour set, the band played eight songs off their upcoming album and eleven older tracks. The crowd, mostly made up of die-hard fans who had gotten tickets either through the band directly or through Live at the Artists Den, burst into applause as the band began playing their older work, but a few people in the crowd were even singing along to the new, yet-unreleased music.
Crack-Up is due to be released by the band’s label, Nonesuch Records, on Friday, June 16th.