Blitzen Trapper brings their sonic alchemy to Gabes!

By Todd Kimm
Photos provided by Lydia Bridges Kuennen

Blitzen Trapper flew its “shambolic Americana” flag at full mast May 30 for a late show that shambled-on for a satisfying 90 minutes or so. The all-ages crowd (pre-teens to post-male menopause) bobbed to a buttery mash of Lynyrd Skynyrd riffs, Deadhead grooves, Band melodies and Pavement whatever. The group seemed to really enjoy the crowd as well. At one point guitarist Erik Menteer said Iowa City shows are “always a party.” Following “Thirsty Man,” a song showcasing the more methodical side of their signature sound, Blitzen Trapper blew things up with “Saturday Night,” basically Mungo Jerry meets Dexy’s Midnight Runners for country meth. The instrumental breakdowns led by guitarist and bandleader Eric Earley, on this and other songs, were mind-boggling. BT’s ability to stretch out for extended jams only to pull everything back for in-the-pocket precision drills is unmatched on the live scene. The set slowed down midway for an Eagles-style “Been Takin’ It Easy for Too Long.” When the crowd started to drift, the band injected epinephrine with “God and Suicide,” “Heart Attack” and a mostly-straight-faced cover of Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way.” Following a perfunctory post of their “hit,” “Black River Killer,” the group skidded into a quiet encore that ended with a white-hot version of Lenny Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” Somebody in the crowd mistook it for a Hendrix song. And what higher praise can you give a group than to say they can turn Lenny Kravitz into Jimi Hendrix? That’s alchemy. The only real drawback of the night was fantastic openers The Parkington Sisters going on stage before the official start time of the show. Regardless, thank you Scott Kading for bringing great music back to Gabes and keeping the legend alive.

 

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