A Very Lonely Solstice Livestream
For all of its misgivings, 2020 has actually surprisingly been rather incredible for music. Several of my favourite artists have released new albums this year, with Fleet Foxes' wonderful autumn release, Shore, sitting a full head and shoulders above the rest (in both my estimations, and my playtime on Spotify).
It's usually typical for bands to tour after the release of a new album but seeing as that's rather impractical in the current climate, singer-songwriter Robin Pecknold opted to do what the rest of the world has done this year - stay inside, and rely on the internet. Airing on the Midwinter Solstice (December 21st, the shortest day of the year) and available to stream until the year's end on noonchorus, Pecknold's A Very Lonely Solstice Livestream is the closest that fans are going to get to a Shore tour this year. Eh, sure, I'll take it.
The show is just over three-quarters of an hour long, with twelve songs performed in total; an entertaining assortment of new tracks from Shore, old favourites, and a couple of classic covers. Despite the very lonesome name of the show and his own comment: "Me by myself on the longest night of the year in a spooky choir loft honouring the loneliness of 2020 w/a nylon string and some songs new and old", Pecknold is actually accompanied by the Resistance Revival Chorus for the opening track, "Wading in Waist-High Water". Their all-white outfits and harmonised tones combined with the location of the show make for a beautiful, serene and almost angelic atmosphere that fits the track perfectly, and sets the tone for the remainder of the show.
Filmed in New York City's St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, the show's setting could not be more ideal. Dozens of cameras pan and zoom while Pecknold performs the rest of the set solo. Still shots of the Church's arches and pillars cut with long shots and closeups of the performance keep things visually dynamic, and make for an experience that compliments the music greatly. I especially enjoyed the wide shots which truly highlight the scale of the Holy Trinity Church, in which Pecknold is dwarfed by the columns and the organ; accentuating the feel of the titular loneliness.
Pecknold's performance itself is simply stunning. His powerful vocals accompanied by the single acoustic guitar make for pleasing, stripped-down versions that are less complex than some of their slightly more produced album counterparts. The pace of some tracks is slowed down too, which fits the atmosphere of the show nicely. Personal highlights for me included the new tracks "Sunblind" and "Featherweight", as well as "Helplessness Blues" from their 2011 album of the same name.
My only hope is that these recordings are made available at a later date as part of a live album of some sort, as they are definitely worthy of their own place amongst the rest of the Fleet Foxes discography - a discography that is currently lacking in any live albums as far as I am aware!
I had the joy of watching the stream remotely with my friend Crystal whilst on video chat, and while it was obviously not quite as exciting as going to a live show together, I think the fact that we have both listened to the show at least a combined ten times between us since shows that it was an absolute triumph.
Music has been instrumental (no pun intended) in getting me through the year, and Fleet Foxes have led the charge. Much like the release of Shore before it, A Very Lonely Solstice Livestream is a wonderful beacon of light, hope and warmth amidst an ocean of darkness. Access to the stream itself is limited now, but I urge you to give the videos below a watch/listen, and to check out their latest album, Shore, if you get the chance.
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