Fleet Foxes and Low Annouce Returns, Disparate Tour Priorities

You may have read the news last week that indie do-no-wrongs Fleet Foxes have announced their sophomore LP, called Helplessness Blues, as well as a string of North American and European dates to coincide with the album’s release on May 3.

Washington, D.C., the town I somehow still manage to call home, is privileged to be on the list of tour stops. However, I must register my disapproval of the choice of venue in DAR Constitution Hall.

With a seated capacity of 3,700, DAR is simply too big and too acoustically unforgiving (think depression-era stone box) to do those Fleet Fox harmonies justice. Also, bigger venues almost always mean bigger ticket prices ($43.70 incl. ticketmaster fees), reserved seating (always lame), and bullshit rules about alcohol like DAR’s policy of no drinks past the lobby (if you’re lucky enough to make it to the front of the monstrous line in the first place!).

Now to be fair, the Foxes have built up a sizable following by now, and since they abstained from touring last year, there’s bound to be pent up demand to see them live. You’re also welcome to disagree with me that bigger venues are necessarily a bad thing; that it’s worth it to trade intimacy with the performers onstage for a bit more communal spirit among the audience. (To which I would ask you the following questions: (1) Have you ever been to First Avenue in Minneapolis (or a comparable 1200-1500 capacity venue?) (2) Does the large (likely outdoor) venue you’re speaking of boast an acoustical range and quality on par with that of First Ave? And finally, (3) is your remembrance of this show colored in any way by drugs or alcohol?)

But is DAR Constitution Hall really the right choice? Clearly we would prefer to see Fleet Foxes at the 9:30 Club, D.C.’s premiere, cozy showcase for all tours of note (capacity 1,200). But if Robin Pecknold & Co. insist on scaling up from the venues on their previous tours (they played the 9:30 back in ’09), let me make another suggestion: The Warner Theatre in Penn Quarter can accommodate 50% more people than the 9:30 Club (1,800), and it offers all the gilded trimmings and crystalline sonics of the other theaters the band is playing this spring. (On this last point I’m judging from the looks of the website, since I haven’t been inside the Warner. But really ANYTHING would be better than DAR!)

Possible downsides: The Warner Theatre is a Live Nation venue, which is something of a deal-breaker with the indie audience. (But maybe the discerning Fleet Foxes fan would be willing to pay a premium for the special experience of a fancy venue?) Also, the joint doesn’t seem very open to music events in general, shows people under 50 would conceivably want to see in specific. (The Warner’s paltry calendar currently, honestly, boasts Sinbad (3/11) and Yanni (4/7)).

Meanwhile, one of my absolute favorite acts in the world (and a band that could indie Fleet Foxes under the table), Duluth, Minnesota’s Low, have also announced a new album (C’mon, April 12), as well as a D.C.-area show. However, whereas Low could more than likely sell out the 9:30 Club, they’ve chosen­ to play The Black Cat (Apr 26), a low-ceilinged bar of 40% less capacity, for just $15 a ticket##.

Guess which show I’m going to…

##That is, I assume-slash-hope they’ve chosen the Black Cat over the 9:30 Club…


1 Response to “Fleet Foxes and Low Annouce Returns, Disparate Tour Priorities”

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