TVD Live: Trampled
by Turtles at the 9:30 Club, 4/22

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | When the boys from Duluth took the stage, they did so in reverent harmony. Each entered the stage and picked up their instrument without addressing the crowd as Dave Simonett began “Wild Animals.” Everyone settled in and got comfortable, ready for show.

In the last few years as Bluegrass has resurged in popularity, it’s also created a very specific fan-base. You can rest assured that whoever lists Bluegrass among their favorite music won’t be an asshole. Trampled by Turtles, or Trampled, or TbT, whichever you prefer—their fans are no different. That “Minnesota Nice” that we’ve heard about on the East Coast is something their fans seem to have taken to heart.

Despite the subject matter, Bluegrass has an easy way about it, and Trampled reminded us of that. “Valley” is an especially acute reminder throughout the chorus: “There’s peace in the valley/ Just give it some time.” It’s no wonder that as our lives get busier, as we surround ourselves with distractions, as the world often seems to be crumbling—solace can be found in acknowledging this fact through music, which can just as easily dismissed. Something else will happen tomorrow, and we’ll get through that too.

As I watched from the balcony it was hard to see the band through the bright lights facing the audience, but that didn’t distract from the dancing fiddle, whining banjo, and evenly scattered solos. It was during those solos that their other influences came through, whether Tim Saxhaug’s funky bass line, or Ryan Young’s hardcore fiddle, each managed to find the right balance between the country and ’80s bedroom posters, if just for a moment.

When the lights dimmed, we were transported outside. Projections from our view looking up at trees, and later the night sky kept us all close.

For their encore they came out for a solemn rendition of Leonard Cohen’s immortal “Hallelujah.” The audience swayed, a few raised their lighters, and everyone came in on the chorus.

As “Hallelujah” ended, Young’s fiddle was already taking us into “Wait So Long,” the barn party we’d been approaching all night. I don’t know how their show ended in other cities—or if by being in DC I see everything through a political lens—but maybe Bluegrass isn’t about dealing and moving on, maybe our friends from Duluth are as bitter as we are behind their smiling strings.


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