The evening began with barbecue pulled chicken sandwiches from Smoke Daddy. It was an auspicious beginning for an evening of roots music. My friend Kasey and I were meeting up to go see Trampled By Turtles at Metro. Trampled By Turtles are a progressive bluegrass band from Duluth, Minnesota. Progressive bluegrass music is basically folk music played at speed metal tempos. Here’s a quick taste.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Even more exciting is that TBT just released a brand spanking new album on the 10th, and it’s absolutely wonderful. I was really looking forward to hearing them play the new songs.
After a brief snafu transferring from the blue line to the red line, Kasey and I made it to Metro about 15 minutes into the opener’s set. The band, These United States, was a sort of alt-country group. They sounded pretty good, but it was a little hard to understand the vocals.
After These United States finished, Metro proceeded to get extremely crowded. Kasey and I both started feeling immensely claustrophobic, so we decamped to the balcony where we had room to breathe, but we couldn’t really see. It was a sold out show after all, but Kasey and I suspect it was oversold. Everything turned out okay though, because I felt the sound was much better on the balcony.
TBT played an amazing hour and a half set. They played my two favorite songs, plus almost all of the tracks from the new album Stars and Satellites. I was a little bummed I couldn’t see, but that was better than having my face stuck in some stranger’s armpit for two hours.
For the encore, TBT played a cover of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Ooh La La” by Faces. I was a little disappointed they didn’t play their cover of “Where Is My Mind,” but the Arcade Fire cover more than made up for it.
The one major bummer about the show was that the crowd was not at all into the TBT ballad numbers. Stars and Satellites has a much more mellow and folksy feel than some of the band’s other work, so it was a little disheartening that the crowd only wanted to hear songs like “Wait So Long.” Don’t get me wrong, I love those types of numbers too, but the TBT ballads are equally great. I really wanted to yell at everyone to stop talking, but that’s really not my style so I just tried to ignore everyone and focus on the music.
One thing that consistently blows my mind about TBT is that as a string band they have no drummer. Speaking as a musician, it’s really hard to put a group of musicians together sans percussion and expect everyone to play at the same tempo. By really hard I mean damn near impossible, but that just shows how great these guys are.
I can’t recommend Stars and Satellites enough. The lyrics are absolutely terrific, and as always the music is astounding. The fact that five guys can put themselves in a recording studio without a producer and make a record like this really makes me happy. Here’s the first track and my favorite from the album.