Blind Pilot, Gregory Alan Isakov
Saturday, Nov. 12 at Earth House
The welcoming environs of the Earth House church sanctuary provided a perfect setting for Blind Pilot, as the scent of coffee beans permeated the room and onlookers held cups of coffee instead of bottles of beer. Anchored by Israel Nebeker's smooth, soothing vocals, the band performed songs from several of their albums and proved to Indy once again that they're a tight live group, skilled at playing typical rock instruments and also trumpet, marimba, and the unique element of a harmonium.
Regardless of your musical tastes, you'd be hard-pressed to dislike Blind Pilot's memorable sound. "One Red Thread" chugged along like a steam engine, building up speed and volume - then suddenly braking for lullaby-like catchy choruses.
The band enjoyed themselves throughout their set, but especially during the closing song, "We Are the Tide," which ramped up quickly with heavier beats, multiple percussionists and a joyful sound.
Blind Pilot has played several times in Indianapolis, and when Nebeker forgot exactly where they'd been during some in-between-songs banter, the crowd was quick to remind him. After a small show at the now-defunct Vollrath and a bigger show at Radio Radio, the band's current trajectory might bring them to The Vogue the next time around. No matter where they play in Indy, catch them for a solid live show.
Blind Pilot kept the audience awake with a lively sound, but it was a good thing that Earth House had plenty of coffee on hand for the opener, Gregory Alan Isakov (from Johannesburg, South Africa), whose set was pleasant but not memorable - as my friend said, "This is good, relaxing music - but
not good for driving long distances by yourself." When Isakov and his band took the stage shortly after 8 p.m., the audience initially stood rapt, but after the first song, the performance served as background music for people who apparently had important things to talk about.
Not that Isakov himself didn't have things to talk about. Between most songs, he mumbled unintelligible banter. The few understood words, "Bruce Springsteen," "Boulder, Colorado," and "new album" might have pertained to things Isakov is excited by - or maybe just things that are located in America.
A quiet audience may not have helped one understand Isakov's mutterings or lyrics, but it would've helped show more respect for the band. Throughout the evening's performances, a group of half a dozen apparently intoxicated people toward the back treated the venue as their living room, talking loudly throughout songs, clapping off-beat at awkward moments, and generally showing disrespect for their fellow concert-goers and the musicians.
They apparently took the line "Man, oh man, you can do what you want," from Blind Pilot's "One Red Thread," to heart, but if they want Blind Pilot and other respectable acts to continue to visit Indy, perhaps they should show a bit more respect next time. After all, as Nebeker sings in "We Are the Tide," "We keep breaking our backs, hoping that it gives enough/Oh, what do you need, what do you need?"