Bikes for Bus: Blind Pilot Plays Packed Boulder Theater

February 2nd, 2012  |  by Nels Thoreson   |  Published in Show Reviews

As I drove into downtown Boulder, I had to circle the block to try to find a parking space.  As I took a right onto Spruce Street, there it was, in all its glory, the green and white tour bus of Portland, Oregon’s own, Blind Pilot.  On this night, it was parked outside the Boulder Theater, as it made its way East from Portland, en route to an across the country Spring Tour.  The bus may have some heat issues, as told to the audience by Kati Claborn (banjo, dulcimer, backing vocals), but it’s enclosed, which is a far-cry from where Blind Pilot began, for founding members Israel Nebeker (vocals, guitar) and Ryan Dobrowski (drums) did a bicycle tour in 2008.  The trip began in Bellingham, Washington and ended in San Diego, California, and had them carrying all their gear and instruments on bicycles they custom made for the journey.  They may have changed means of transportation, but their music, and who they are has remained the same.

I walked in and was greeted by the soothing music of opener, singer/songwriter, Martha Scanlan, who played songs off her albums, The West Was Burning and Little Bird Of Heaven.  She ended her set, with the help of the members of Blind Pilot, with a fun rendition of of Bob Dylan’s, “Went To See The Gypsy.”

Blind Pilot then took the stage, accompanied by the collective roar of the packed house at the Boulder Theater.  They immediately began to weave between their two albums, their debut, 3 Rounds and a Sound, and their latest album, We Are The Tide.  The collective sound of the six-piece band is powerful, yet features and showcases the incredible, stand-out, vocals of Nebeker.  Along with Nebeker, Dobrowski and Claborn, are fellow Oregonians and band members Luke Ydstie (upright bass, backing vocals), Ian Krist (vibraphones) and Dave Jorgensen (keyboards, trumpet).   Ydstie and Claborn brought beautiful harmony to the lyrics, Krist mastered the notes on the vibraphone, Jorgensen provided crowd pleasing trumpet solos, and Dobrowski held it all together with the beat.

They wowed the crowd with Blind Pilot classics, “One Red Thread,” “Two Town From Me,” “Go On Say It,” “Half Moon,” “New York,” “We Are The Tide,” and ended the show with an unplugged version of “3 Rounds and a Sound,” which Nebeker said is a favorite to play on their camping trips.  It then turned into a pretty amazing sing-along, which was fitting end to great performance by Blind Pilot.  (Below is the song, played for KEXP radio in Seattle.)

The trusty green and white bus then bid Colorado a farewell, en route to a show tonight in Iowa City, Iowa.  The bus rolls on, but their music from that night will remain with everyone in the audience at the Boulder Theater.

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