(We’ve got some catching up to do here at Frequency, where posts have become too infrequent recently. So here’s part one of “Better Late Than Never Week.” Today’s episode: Blind Pilot videos.)
No doubt about it, Blind Pilot — fast-rising, Portland-based creators of genial, gentle indie-folk-pop — is a well-oiled musical machine. Frontman Israel Nebeker writes catchy, compelling songs. His six-piece band is a highly skilled amalgam of moving parts that somehow finds a nice balance between breathless urgency and measured restraint. On stage, they seem humble and likable; they do their jobs with an easy, understated grace that’s hard to find in a world where bands must increasingly rely on bells and whistles (in addition to — sometimes instead of — songs and skills) to get noticed in an overpopulated music scene.
But for whatever reason, Blind Pilot doesn’t resonate with me. I recognize their considerable strengths, but can’t personally connect with what they do so well. And that’s OK. Lots of people can. Lots of people love them, as evidenced by the large crowd that showed up to their show Wednesday night at the Tower Theatre. It was the best-attended concert so far in the wonderful PDXchange Program series, and the band’s first show since they played two nights at the spacious, 780-capacity Wonder Ballroom back in December.
Facts are facts: Blind Pilot is a much bigger band/draw than my brain seems to think they are. And they’re going to get even bigger when their new album comes out next year, for all those reasons I listed above. Because in this missed connection, it’s not them, it’s me.
(Before we get to the videos, one note: In Friday’s GO! Magazine, I wrote a little review of Bend artist Sara Jackson-Holman’s performance at MusicfestNW and noted her occasional nervousness on stage. That was true when I wrote it, and will probably be true in the near future. But during Jackson-Holman’s set opening for Blind Pilot at the Tower, jitters were few and far between. It was the best set I’ve seen from her so far, with covers of Leonard Cohen and the Postal Service sprinkled among songs from her debut album “When You Dream.”)
Here’s Blind Pilot playing a new song, which they declined to name when asked by someone in the audience.
And here’s “Go On, Say It” from the breakthrough album “3 Rounds and a Sound.”