PHOTOS: Fleet Foxes bring whimsical soundscapes to the Greek

Fleet Foxes, Robin Pecknold

Photos: Chloe Catajan

BERKELEY — As The Westerlies played its dreary tune “A Nearer Sun,” Fleet Foxes took the Greek Theatre stage Friday. The symphonic tones eventually turned into a single blare, cueing the Seattle folk-rockers to take over from there. Seamlessly, Fleet Foxes broke into full sound for  “I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar” – the turbulent opening track of 2017 release Crack Up.

Fleet Foxes, Robin Pecknold

The Westerlies perform with Fleet Foxes at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Apr. 20, 2018.

On the record, “I Am All That I Need…” feels like a condensed outdoor journey, as if constantly alternating between hushed breaths of fresh air and rapid sprints through the woods. Live, the pace stayed steady and amplified. The sense of adventure was still there but it was echoed by the band’s grandiose harmonies and the audience’s cheers. Following was “Cassius, -” the pensive second track off Crack Up.

“This is the most beautiful place, in the middle of the most beautiful park,” frontman Robin Pecknold said as he thanked the crowd in between songs.

Next up were some favorites off the band’s 2008 self-titled record: “White Winter Hymnal,” “Ragged Wood” and “Your Protector.” Most of the night’s setlist came from the 2008 record and Crack Up. The band would play a couple tunes in album order before alternating between releases. On top the deliberate song ordering, solid harmonies, intricate instrumentals and scenic projections all brought Fleet Foxes’ storybook soundscapes to life.

Fleet Foxes also revisited “Grown Ocean” and “The Cascades” off 2011’s Helplessness Blues, and hit tune “Mykonos” from 2008 EP Sun Giant. Ultimately, the first set ended with “Crack Up,” but it wasn’t long until Pecknold returned onstage solo.

Amen Dunes

Amen Dunes perform at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Apr. 20, 2018.

“Is there someone in the crowd named Henry?” Pecknold asked. The vocalist-guitarist explained that the upcoming song was per the request of Henry, who was somewhere in the Berkeley audience despite having brain surgery four days before. Pecknold then broke into a medley of “Meadowlarks” and “Oliver James,” marking the former’s second time ever to be played live. The encore continued with the full band playing “Drops In The River” and the epic “Helplessness Blues.”

Amen Dunes, the project of New York musician Damon McMahon, opened the show. Amen Dunes mixed indie folk with dream-pop, setting a whimsical mood for the night ahead. For his track “Believe,” the backdrop projected the lyrics “When things go black, I got you,” a sweet touch to the song’s hopeful tones. Amen Dunes’s setlist also included tracks like “Blue Rose,” “Mika Dora” and “Bedroom Drum.”

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