Blitzen Trapper consists of five Oregon lumberjacks playing instruments behind frontman Eric Earley, the love child of Bob Dylan and Maroon 5′s Adam Levine. While not every member sported a beard or flannel shirt, if you average it out, each person had at least one of those things.
It wasn’t just the appearance of this husky crew that made them seem out of place in the chandeliered El Rey—the nature of their music simply belongs in the backwoods of Oregon. The state was mentioned as the inspiration behind several of their songs (“This one’s about a river in Oregon;” “We found this song in an Oregon forest;” “We were thinking about the roller skating rink back home”). They certainly managed to fill the venue with rousing renditions of songs like “Furr” and “Big Black Bird,” but almost every one would’ve sounded better around a campfire, tin cup of whiskey in hand.
I know they are an actual touring band, but it was if they had become Blitzen Trapped In A Cage To Perform For Spectators. They pulled it off, playing to our fancy city theatre spelled with “re” at the end, but you could see that their souls longed for the moonlit stage. At one point Earley exchanged his guitar for a keyboard and half the lumberjacks exited the stage for a couple classy numbers including “Not Your Lover,” and that was the closest the band came to fitting into their surroundings. But, like with animals at the zoo, you don’t really want them to fit in. You want them to stay themselves. You can appreciate them for entertaining us city folk while they’re here, but the real joy is imagining what it would be like to see them in the wild.