Clif Rhodes

Fleet Foxes Wash Over the Crowd at Firefly

Music Scene Media
Jun 27, 2023
4 min read

Big puffy cumulus clouds filled the blue sky, and patchwork quilts and blankets lined the grass of the big open field of the Firefly Distillery. The temperature was a scorching 90 degrees, but that didn’t stop thousands of fans from coming out to the second installment of the Distillery’s summer concert series.  

Fleet Foxes brought their Shore tour to Charleston, SC and mesmerized the crowd. In many ways, the Foxes, to me, feel and sound like a modern day group of medieval minstrels. Traveling from town to town with their various instruments and spinning musical narratives that paint vivid and baroque tales of love, and loss. Each member is equipped and skilled with multiple instruments to build big sounds from a small group.

They may not energetically dance around the stage or melt your face with guitar riffs, but that does not stop the indie folk rock darlings from delivering a powerful performance.

It was a low key affair, which was absolutely perfect for the Foxes. Robin Pecknold (lead singer, guitar) stepped on to the stage in his Birkenstocks and snapped a picture of the crowd with a disposable camera. Hey gave a big wave and a bigger smile. They started their set with the song “Wading in Waist-High Water” from 2021’s Shore. The ethereal opener, angelically sung by the opening artist Uwade, washed over the crowd like a warm wave and set the tone for what was to come. 

The show continued with a more upbeat track from Shore, “Sunblind”. Every band member delivered a seamless performance. Christian Wargo (bass) provided smooth low end and Casey Wescott (keyboard, backing vocals) showcased his skills. His fingers danced across his keys.

When the echoes of the acapella opening of “White Winter Hymnal” from their 2008 Self Titled debut filled the air. The magic of Fleet Foxes began to take hold. Watching almost every member of the band switch from instrument to instrument and providing the perfect musical bed for their narrative lyrics was something to see. Multi instrumentalist Morgan Henderson was particularly impressive switching from upright bass to saxophone and then to guitar. Robin’s voice was crystal clear, and sounded exactly like it does on record. Soft and subtle or powerful and voluminous. 

“Mykonos” from their 2008 EP Sun Giant rang out across the field and the crowd became an ocean of swaying bodies. The crowd fell completely silent during the musical break of the song and erupted with the lyrics “brother you don’t need to turn me away” “I was waiting down at the ancient gate” as the sun dipped down behind the horizon.

One of my favorite moments of the show came during the song “Blue Spotted Tail” from 2011’s Helplessness Blues. Robin stood alone on stage with his acoustic guitar and illuminated by a single light. From the first note the crowd was hypnotized. Under the night sky and under the perfectly presented moon, it gave me chills to hear over a thousand people sing the lyrics word for word. “Why in the night sky are the lights hung?” “why is the earth moving ‘round the sun?

“Floating in the vacuum with no purpose, not a one”.

They continued with fan favorites like “Montezuma” from Helplessness Blues and “Blue Ridge Mountains” from 2008’s Fleet Foxes. The latter song again demanded a massive singalong and prompted arms to sway in the air.

Fleet Foxes closed out the night with the title track from Helplessness Blues. A beautifully inquisitive song that encapsulates them so well and highlights their lyrical storytelling they are known for.

Robin ended the night the same way he began it. Lifting his disposable camera, snapping a picture, smiling, and giving a wave.

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