by Tara Morgan
Boise is familiar ground for Salem, Ore.'s Blitzen Trapper. Brian Koch, the band’s percussionist, looked at ease amid a mess of magazines and merchandise, chatting amiably before the band’s March 23 Neurolux set. He was on home turf.
Koch was wearing orange earplugs. He relocateed to a circular booth in the inexplicably quiet half of Neurolux near the pool table where he could hear better. Koch said he has to wear plugs because of damage he sustained in his left ear at SXSW.
“I was deaf after Austin,” he said. “It’s still ringing a lot.”
But after SXSW, Boise is hardly what he would call decompression. Decompression, he said, would be more like Telluride, which he described as “one show really far up in the mountains.” As one of the band’s vocalists, he was shocked that the altitude didn’t affect his voice.
“Everybody else in the band complained about the altitude,” Koch said.
The band was shrouded in mystery all afternoon after playing a secret set at the Record Exchange with only three of its five members in attendance. He pointed behind the booth at Erik Menteer, Blitzen Trapper’s lead guitarist, avidly playing pinball. Menteer was one of the band members not present at the Record Exchange. The reason for playing short-handed, Koch said, was sheer sloth.
“It’s just for the sake of ease. We’re also kind of lazy,” he said. “We don’t have to set up twice.”
Koch said Blitzen Trapper sometimes plays “half shows” like these to generate excitement for the band ahead of an important set.
Koch sensed that Treefort has changed the dynamic between musicians and the Boise audience. He had only been in Boise for a day, but already saw the change in how people walk the streets—even in how they drink their beer.
“It’s as subtle as the smiles on people’s faces. That kind of activity is infectious,” Koch said.
Tomorrow, the band will be on its way again—it has a gig Sunday, March 25 in Ketchum.