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Davis

Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

A turtle’s banjo never sleeps

Last Thursday, Trampled by Turtles, a bluegrass band from Duluth, Minnesota, rocked the halls of The Fillmore in San Francisco. I had the pleasure of witnessing this invigorating show.

Never before have I seen a mandolin played so fast. With notable moments such as their songs “Wait So Long” and “Widower’s Heart,” Trampled soothed my aching soul with melodramatic flare. I will note that on a regular occasion, I am not a man for bluegrass music.

Also, I do believe, in the heat of hillbilly passion, they may have rushed some of their offering. But boy, did I feel the music in my bones. That beautiful fiddle slowly broke me down and I assure all of you a little bluegrass will alleviate even the most vicious of maledictions. My curiosity was piqued, they never broke their rapid tempo and I felt the rush.

It is with a heavy heart that I must confess, tragedy struck halfway through the presentation. The Turtles had counted their chickens much too early. Though they retained their rapid style, I believe the effects became numb in the cacophony of sound. If only I could have reached them, whispered in their ears, “tone it down a notch, bro,” then maybe they would have retained my interest. But, alas, their concert became very monochromatic, and by the end of the set I felt they had only touched at genius instead of firmly mounting its rugged peaks.

As with all the music I consume, if I am subjected to a plethora of sounds from a single band, I expect variety. This does not mean they have to experiment with entirely different genres, but when you can’t tell where one song begins and the other ends, I must protest.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some albums, most notably progressive rock, are attempting to create a sort of narrative. I would not allocate Trampled that luxury. If I had to give my overall take, I’d say it was a good show. Variety is a fickle mistress. Originality is hard, and if one sound works, I understand why some would retain its favor.

BEAUGART GERBER can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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