A heartfelt evening of raw musicianship at its finest. The Teragram Ballroom sold-out for the first night of two back-to-back shows with Blind Pilot. Kicking off the evening, the incredible River Whyless got the night rolling. From North Carolina, this collective shines with such a unique blend of talents. You have violin, banjo, harmonium, toy piano, guitars, drums — all of which come together with their super rich vocals. All three vocalists had such different tones and grooves to their voices. I was super impressed by the solo lady of the group, Halli Anderson. She played her violin so beautifully and transitioned through her pedal changes like magic. River Whyless definitely provided a lovely kickstart to the evening.
Without further ado, and a set time to abide by, Oregon’s Blind Pilot were up. This indie folk group has truly come a long way. What started out as a two-man act between lead Israel Nebeker and drummer, Ryan Dobrowski, has made its way to a full collective with four additional multi-instrumentalists. I first heard Blind Pilot back on my Pandora station maybe five years ago. I remember hearing their song “Just One” off their sophomore album We Are The Tide. I was initially intrigued by Israel’s calm vocals. There’s a calming feeling I still get when I listen to them as a whole.
This show proved no different. The harmonies for one are insane. I actually got to witness that song being performed unplugged, with Israel center-edge of the stage, accompanied by fellow members Kati Claborn on a mountain dulcimer instrument, and Luke Ydstie on bass guitar. The intimacy was real at the Teragram, I’ll say that for sure.
I believe their set covered the perfect variety and hit all the favorites and more from all three of their albums. The most recent release, And Then Like Lions, has been described as a “darker shade of folk” and I’d say that is only somewhat true. Israel took a moment to address that to the crowd at some point during the set. What it comes down to is his latest songwriting has favored towards the subject of loss and doubt. His purpose is to encourage conversation about it rather than sulking to oneself. Of course we could all relate and know that we are ever truly alone in our struggles. What more could you want from music? Music is best when performed with pure escape in the music and passion for every note and lyric. Finishing with a cover of “This Must Be The Place: Naive Melody” by Talking Heads, Blind Pilot nailed it.
Photography & Words: Danielle Gornbein