Fleet Foxes warm cool October evening

Kevin Speirs

“They have the best harmonies since the Beach Boys,” remarked a surprised fan in the audience, and that fan was not alone in appreciating the live music of Fleet Foxes.

On Oct. 2, Fleet Foxes headlined at the Starlight Ballroom in Philadelphia in an inspiring performance from an up-and-coming band.

Frank Fairfield opened the show. Looking like he just came from Mississippi circa 1934, Fairfield enticed the crowd with his unique folk sound.

Playing guitar, banjo and fiddle, Fairfield surprised everyone in a fun, unusual way to begin the night. At around 9:30 p.m., Fleet Foxes came on stage to raucous applause.

One of the indie-rock scene’s newest artists, the band has been pleasing its increasing fan base since its self titled debut album came out this June.

After listening to the album, it didn’t seem likely that these five homely gentlemen could create such rich tones in this setting.

Surely they had some help in the studio. But soon as the first note hit, I knew I was mistaken. Four band members sang in beautiful harmonies. The ethereal oohs and ahhs filled the Starlight Ballroom, creating an atmosphere of joy.

Singer Robin Pecknold has the amazing ability to powerfully project his voice full of emotion, sadness and elation, doing the same with a whispering falsetto.

While playing more upbeat tunes everyone in the audience started to move, close to breaking out in dance but inhibited by the packed theater.

One of the many highlights of the show was “White Winter Hymnal,” a seven-line song repeated in a velvety smooth harmony. The song makes anyone smile instantly.

But the show wasn’t all happiness and glee; somber tracks like “Meadowlarks” were chilling and moving. In its hour and a half long set, the band played practically everything they have recorded.

The best song of the night was “Your Protector.” Starting off slow, Pecknold’s face pained with sweaty locks sticking to his face as he poured his soul into the chorus, singing, “As you lay to die beside me, baby/ I’m the one in the shootin’ game/ Would you wait for me/ the other one/ would you wait for me,”instantly sending chills down everyone’s spines.

When the set ended, the band walked off, grateful to the respectful audience. The audience, however, was not satisfied. I have never seen an audience want an encore from such a relatively unknown band like I did that evening.

Pecknold returned alone to sing the somber “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” easing the crowd into the next song, which the entire band returned for.

A treat for the crowd, they played a new, unreleased track, “Silver City.” Beginning with gentle finger-picking and a four-part harmonious chant, the song breaks out into a merry mix of guitars, keys and drums, swirling for four minutes to a 30-second a cappella ending.

Afterward, everyone seemed to be in some sort of shock, amazed at the performance. Walking to their cars, multiple people were singing the catchy hooks from a few minutes prior.

Surpassing expectations, the Fleet Foxes surely gave everyone that evening much more than their $14 worth.