Blitzen Trapper at Urban Lounge. Photo: Max Lowe
Against my better judgment, I decided to go to the Blitzen Trapper show at Urban Lounge Tuesday, July 19. I was not wary of the band, but more the consequences of going to a show at Urban the night before my corporate finance final exam, where bands start notoriously late, and where getting liters of Bud Light is too tempting. The tiny little devil on my shoulder won out though, and after a long day of test prep, I headed downtown to my friend’s house to cook a little pre-concert pasta feed and loosen my thoughts with a beer or two.
We headed over to Urban Lounge at around 10:30 p.m., knowing that the main band wouldn’t go on ‘til at least 11 p.m. When we arrived, I expected a crowd, as Blitzen Trapper has quite the following with hit songs such as “Furr” and “Black River Killer,” but I was pleased to find a manageable number of people in the low-ceilinged square room. Urban Lounge may not be the biggest and best venue, but it provides a rustic, intimate setting that makes it seem like the band is playing for just you and a group of friends. The band came on right on cue at 11 p.m., opening with the walking ballad “Country Caravan.” If you are not acquainted with Blitzen Trapper, they are a rock and rolling folk band hailing from Portland, Oregon, who bring a unique, smoky hint of backwoods and rolling country in their music. Guitarist and singer Eric Earley leads the group in dark and stormy ballads of love lost and murder done, as well as upbeat hymns that one might wander the countryside to, bouncing along to the beat of the drum and the strum of the banjo.
The crowd was captivated by the group who, although calm and collected, emitted an energy you could see was felt by everyone in the room. The opening notes to “Black River Killer” rang out and smiles sprouted on every face in the audience. Singing along to the words I know well, I knew I had made a good call to forsake getting a full night’s rest before my test the next day.
After the band closed and the crowd dispatched, I got a chance to briefly talk to Earley. “We have all been friends since we were kids, so we have been playing together for a long time,” he said of the band. I asked what his impression was of Salt Lake City, to which he replied, “It’s a pretty cool place from the little I have seen. The numbered streets are pretty confusing though. Everyone always tells me it’s the easiest way to get around, but it hasn’t clicked for me. We have been here like five or six times, and all the shows we have had here have been super fun and well received.” Earley doesn’t drink anymore, but I found out the band’s whiskey of choice is Jameson. “I have a personal appreciation for fine rye whiskey, though,” said Earley. Blitzen Trapper is releasing their new album, Golden Wing, on this tour, which is money well spent.
It had been another great Salt Lake night filled with good music, new friends, a beer or two more than I probably should have had, and I even ended up passing my final the next day.