Trampled by Turtles at First Avenue, 4/11/12

Trampled by Turtles
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here.

Both Minneapolis and Duluth dedicated this day to Trampled by Turtles, and a rowdy crowd packed inside First Avenue to celebrate the festivities in earnest. Earlier, singer Dave Simonett had told the Current's Barb Abney that he figured that it meant that the bluegrass-fueled folk quintet couldn't get arrested, but it didn't seem like they were testing legal boundaries during their spirited set in the First Avenue Mainroom. Instead, it was a show that did its best to expand the boundaries of the building. 

With the help of backdrops and beach balls, the flannel-clad Turtles turned the venue into a star-lit desert, a beach under a full moon, and a hoedown in a barn at various points during the night. The fresh release of Stars and Satellites was the reason for the fete, but the sold-out crowd seemed inclined to do their best air mandolin techniques during the older, faster songs tucked into the set. With Simonett quarterbacking the team, they built up many jams with eyes alit and beards a-waving. It's hard to imagine that this pack of dudes used to play sitting down. During "It's A War," fiddle player Ryan Young was up to his usual runaway train antics. Charlie Daniels would be proud.

Trampled by Turtles at First Avenue, 4/11/12
Photo by Erik Hess

The night proved to be a festive opportunity from the early going, and with so many happily jostling bodies crammed inside, passive listening was impossible. This was tested during the slower moments of the set, like the new song "Widower's Heart." It's an undeniably beautiful statement, but this is the one area where Trampled by Turtles should take a few pointers from folk kin the Avett Brothers and set up these heartfelt moments with some stage banter to quiet the crowd. It wasn't a din of noise, but a missed opportunity for a singalong.

Trampled by Turtles at First Avenue, 4/11/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Perhaps that's why another new track, "Alone," is such a success. There's enough of a crowd participation aspect to the tune, but it's still mostly a mellow song until the lusty bridge in the middle. Various wives and mothers were brought out onstage to sing backup, and it concluded the regular set. For the encore, we got the two sides of the Trampled by Turtles (and two very different explorations of mental issues) in a nutshell: The slow, introspective "The Calm and the Crying Wind" and that muscular cover of the Pixies' "Where is My Mind." By the finish of a long Trampled by Turtles Day there were no arrests to speak of, but the proceeds sure were arresting.  

Critic's Notebook

Overheard: "I smell the herb a-brewing." "I love burritos!"

The Crowd: Stomping, intoxicated, and bellowing. The trample comes from the audience.

Random Detail: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak doing a bit of stage-diving. Duluth mayor Don Ness also tried to throw himself into the crowd for some surfing, but didn't get as far.

Trampled by Turtles at First Avenue, 4/11/12
Photo by Erik Hess


Trampled by Turtles at First Avenue, 4/11/12
Photo by Erik Hess

The Calm and the Crying Wind
Where Is My Mind (Pixies)

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