Trampled by Turtles: Webster Hall 17 April 2012

Last night rtb, violaleeblue, and I went to see a new (to me) band at Webster Hall. The problem is that the sound at Webster Hall can get muddy. Plus it’s the size of the space – it’s a little to big to get that intimate feeling you can get from a band at Bowery Ballroom or Music Hall of Williamsburg. Mercury Lounge is the best for feeling close to a band. Terminal 5 is the absolute worst for any good feelings. So when I go to a show at Webster Hall I prefer if it’s a band I’ve seen before and that I’m familiar with. Although I did see Ingrid Michaelson, David Ford and the Old 97’s for the first time there. Well, the Old 97’s I saw the second time for the first time at Webster Hall. And keep that thought about the Old 97’s because it’s going to come up again.

The show wasn’t sold out but the floor got very crowded by the time the main act appeared. But when we first got there it was empty enough that I had a clear walk to my spot on top of the bass trap. There was another couple already on there but they drifted into the crowd before the show started. And violaleeblue had to give me a boost up because I’m short with no upper body strength – it took two tries but I got up there. After sitting there for a while I noticed something new. No one said anything to us all night but look what Webster Hall stenciled on there:


Opening act was These United States, who rtb and I saw open for The Head and the Heart at MHoW. They’re a happy bouncy bunch of people. Thrilled to be in NYC. Thrilled to be on tour. Thrilled to be playing music. Nothing of theirs stands out for me but I always enjoy seeing them. Lead singer and guitarist Jesse Elliott is the most thrilled. But also thrilled are pedal steel and electric guitarist J. Tom Hnatow, guitarist and keyboardist Justin Craig, bassist and vocalist Anna Morsett, and drummer and percussionist Aaron Latos. For the last three songs of their set they first brought the mandolin player from Trampled by Turtles, then the fiddler, and then the guitarist/lead singer to join them.

Trampled by Turtles start off slow and quiet but soon speed up to a version of punk bluegrass I haven’t heard since Killbilly and haven’t been reminded of since the first (second) time I saw the Old 97’s. Everyone stands in a straight line across the front of the stage – Erik Berry (mandolin), Ryan Young (fiddle and cello), Dave Carroll (banjo), Dave Simonett (acoustic guitar/harmonical/lead vocals), and Tim Saxhaug (acoustic bass guitar). Everyone sings backing vocals and they all took turns showing off just how fast they could play with the standouts being Berry and Young. There was one point where Young was sawing away so fast and hard that I was reminded of a movie (cartoon?) where the violin bursts into flame (was it Marx Brothers, Three Stooges, or Bugs Bunny?) as if two sticks were being rubbed together for a campfire.

The band alternated between the quiet and fast songs – the audience was appreciative but was talking a little too loudly during the quiet moments. One really nice moment was for “Alone” when These United States came out and stood in a line behind Trampled by Turtles. It was a quiet song until the end when they all started clapping and singing the “ooohs” and the audience joined in and people on the stage were bouncing up and down and people in the audience were bouncing up and down and Webster Hall was bouncing up and down.

Here’s the quiet moment with everyone on stage.


During most of the show there was guy yelling for “Wait So Long” and I thought he was going to have a stroke if they didn’t play it. When the song started, he yelled, the crowd roared, and it was definitely worth the wait. Trampled by Turtles is one of those bands that I’d like to experience in a smaller more intimate venue but I think I missed that chance. So second best is getting to see them with a crowd that adores them.

By Carene Lydia Lopez