Live Report: Trampled by Turtles and Mt. Joy at The Greek

Artists: Trampled by Turtles & Mt. Joy

Venue: The Greek

Date: August 15th, 2021

I am absolutely thrilled to be able to do a Live Report write up for the first time in ages! This past Sunday I had the pure joy of being able to attend a show featuring Trampled By Turtles & Mt. Joy at The Greek. It was a wonderful welcome back to live music, especially since The Greek is one of my favorite venues in Los Angeles. The sound is always perfection, and the fact that it is an open air theatre gave me a piece of comfort as I crawl back into the world of doing many of the things I used to do out in society.

The show opened with Trampled by Turtles, from Duluth, MN. Despite being the openers, they played more than just an opening set, going for about one hour and fifteen minutes. I won’t complain, though, since I originally bought these tickets to see them, and only them. The stage was set with three menacing steam punk owl faces that lit up throughout the show, and they set the perfect back drop to the straight line of band members and their instruments up front . If you’ve never heard Trampled by Turtles before, the best description I can come up with for their sound is that they are the “speed metal of bluegrass.” I was first introduced to them by the Palladia network (which later became MTV Live), when I was struck hard by the opening track of “Alone” on the concert being broadcast. I fell in love immediately.

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Their set was on point. They played all of my favorite tunes, including: “Wait So Long,” “Codeine,” and “Alone.” They also pulled out their fan favorite Pixies cover of “Where Is My Mind,” and added in a moving cover by Warren Zevon, “Keep Me In Your Heart“. They are ridiculously skilled musicians, and they keep their sound incredibly tight (which is impressive considering how they are sprawled out on the stage – and the fact that they do not have a drummer). They started playing to a theatre that was more than half empty, with people slowly trickling in and not paying super close attention. That makes sense because their sound and Mt. Joy‘s sound are not necessarily along the same vain, so I wasn’t expecting Mt. Joy fans to immediately latch on. By the end of their set, however, they had the full theatre on their feet hooting and hollering every time the spotlight honed in on the fiddle player as he shredded his strings for the audience. I loved seeing that shift. It was a magical opening for my return to live shows.

The show was headlined by Mt. Joy, who I had heard of thanks to my Spotify Discover Weekly playlists, but I wasn’t overly familiar with their music going into the show. Despite my lack of exposure, I can tell you that their fan base very much showed up for them in a big way, which makes sense since they are a Los Angeles based band (with Philadelphia roots). I’d previously only heard popular tracks such as “Silver Lining” and “Strangers,” but I liked a lot of what I heard for the very first time. Everyone around me was singing along with every song, enthralled with the show. They were rewarded with some sneak peeks of new music that Mt. Joy has been working on during the pandemic as well. They debuted two tracks, “Phenomenon” and “Lemon Tree.” Of the two new tracks, “Lemon Tree” grabbed me the most and I look forward to when this music gets recorded by the band.

Mt. Joy had a good balance of going back and forth between their more psychedelic sound, their rock sound, and their more mellow and moody pieces. They were even joined for one track by The Office actor, Creed Bratton, which definitely stirred the crowd. That’s one of the fun parts about seeing shows in Los Angeles – you never really know who is going to show up!

After their set had ended they headed off stage, and the girls behind me started chanting, “Bug Eyes! Bug Eyes! Bug Eyes!” Well, those girls were rewarded, because Mt. Joy returned to the stage and opened their encore with that very song.

I like going to shows where I’m not super familiar with a band or their music, because it gives you a chance to experience everything for the first time. It’s sometimes more powerful to see a song for the first time performed live – with the true passion and energy of the musicians bleeding through the sound. Mt. Joy brought plenty of joy, to both their super fans, and to this newbie.

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