Considering that Nashville is home to the infamous Honky Tonks of Lower Broad and the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was truly a surprise when Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles started the evening by telling the crowd at the nearly sold-out, historic Exit/In that the band had never played Nashville before – despite being together for almost a decade and touring extensively. There’s a first time for everything, though, and on Tuesday night the Duluth, MN, quintet made sure to show Music City what they’ve been missing out on.
The rich vocal harmonies, unbelievably intricate and fast fiddle solos, and ever-present strumming mandolin and banjo were in full force as the group blasted through nearly all of 2010’s Palomino. “Help You” kicked things off with a mournful fiddle melody and impressive banjo backing. Right from the start, it was clear that the band was as excited to be there as the crowd was, constantly thanking everybody for attending and smiling uncontrollably between songs. “Sounds Like a Movie” upped the ante once more, with its dueling instruments plucking at blazing speeds.
An intense rendition of “It’s a War” got the crowd involved in a furious hand-clapping frenzy, as the fiddle player fell to his knees, breaking a string and continuing to play. This relentless speed and heart ended up being a theme for the evening, and even on slower tunes such as “Bloodshot Eyes”, Trampled by Turtles’ intensity fully demanded the audience’s attention. Seeing the manic mandolin and fiddle solos and the interplay between the five instruments live on the stage was exhilarating. The recorded versions simply do not do them justice.
The band made sure not to completely abandon the rest of their catalog as the night progressed. An expansive version of burner “Methodism in Middle America” was a definite highlight of the first half of the show, and old favorite “Drinkin’ in the Morning” made an appearance to fan delight later on. Simonett also mentioned that they were nearly done recording the new album, previewing a new track whose crescendo into a beautiful melody of fiddle vibrato and rich mandolin proves their new effort definitely something to look forward to.
Weekday Nashville crowds have a tendency to be lethargic, but this was not the case tonight. The band’s genuine graciousness and energy was contagious, as the audience continued to dance to improvised hand-clapping beats in eager anticipation of the encore, whose undeniable highlight was an especially twangy cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind”. As the encore came to an end, after 20 songs and around 90 minutes of playing, the general consensus was two things: one, that it was too soon for the show to be over and two, that with any luck, Trampled by Turtles plan on making Music City a more frequent tour stop.
Sounds Like a Movie
Methodism in Middle America
Darkness and the Light
It’s a War
*Untitled new song from upcoming album
Feet and Bones
New Son/Burnt Iron
Wait So Long
Where Is My Mind (Pixies cover)
Drinkin’ in the Morning