Fruit Bats @ The Echo LA
By Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Do you love falsetto and folk? Do you dig the sweet surprise of a band coming back from the dead and playing a relatively flawless set complete with new tracks to boot? Then hopefully you were at the Echo in Los Angeles recently, bobbing your head and sipping PBR or Golden Road and basking in Eric D. Johnson’s ever evolving and now technically zombified band Fruit Bats’ first performance in a coon’s age.
A quick note on the opener, Tall Tales and The Silver Lining – they were perfectly palatable folk fare, and everybody seemed to be politely into it, even more so toward the front where you could spot genuine smiles and one guy legitimately grooving (bless him). The track they closed with, ‘Waves’ (off 2015 album Tightropes), was a great number – full of emotion, spiraling guitars and a tried and true down-home harmonious chorus steeped in melody. Check it out if you want to feel joyously sad.
But to Fruit Bats – with a set draped in Mexican blankets and a Superbowl Shuffle record propped against an amp, Johnson took the stage swathed in a tweed blazer (in which it would be a matter of three tracks before removal) to tell us they were recording a new album in Van Nuys. With a dead ringer for Dustin Hoffman on keys in a Hawaiian shirt and camo pants, a guitar player that inexplicably was wearing and then not wearing a baseball cap every time I looked back at him and a drummer that made some of the best drummer faces I’ve ever seen (think Joe Lo Truglio in Superbad), Fruit Bats are as genuinely themselves as they come. Eric D. Johnson was affable and modest, subtly dancing and shrugging off moments of feedback while giving subtle glimpses into tracks without going overboard. The set boasted a tight sound and even a little overwhelming moment or two of goosebumps (See tracks So Long, Shivering Fawn and You’re Too Weird), packed with fans that were pleasant, chatty folk who liked to shimmy and shake. Finishing off strong with ‘When U Love Somebody’ (complete with good-vibes and high hand clapping), Fruit Bats dust off quite nicely. Touring through October and hopefully adding more dates, catch them if you can