They slowed things down again on their latest record, but Trampled by Turtles proved they can still perform with fast efficiency on Thursday night at the Cedar Cultural Center.
The bearded pickers played their new album, “Wild Animals,” front to back in a free concert for local fans who ordered it at the Electric Fetus. Since the show was also broadcast live via 89.3 the Current, the guys took the stage right at 8 p.m. sharp and walked off stage 47 minutes later.
Frontman Dave Simonett did a little talking between songs, including a moment of high praise for the Electric Fetus and Thursday’s record-buying crowd. “It’s great in 2014 to still be able to walk into a record store like that,” he said. However, he let the new material speak for itself. And did it ever.
The quintet unofficially turned into a sextet at Thursday’s gig with the addition of Eamonn McLain, the Field Trip (nee Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles) cellist who has performed with them here and there in the past – including their Letterman appearance in 2012. Word is McLain will be with them on Letterman again Tuesday and throughout their upcoming tour.
McLain’s presence added a somber tinge to some of the more slower-paced, ambient tunes, including the shimmering “Silver Light” and the folky, harmonious gem “Hollow.” He and violinist Ryan Young also played off each other with great flair in the dramatic burner “Repetition,” one of a few songs to also feature local MVP drummer JT Bates on tambourine (not exactly the most demanding use of Bates’ talent, but a nice little touch nonetheless). Banjoist Dave Carroll and mandolinist Erik Berry got to strut their stuff later in the hard-plucking, twangier ditties “Come Back Home” and “Western World,” the latter of which was one of a handful of tunes the band had yet to play live. You wouldn’t have known it.
After the mellow, truly grand finale “Winners” – a song laced with bittersweet Duluth references – the band only returned for one more tune, a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Swimming Song” dutifully sung by bassist Tim Saxhaug. “This summer I did jackknives and swan dives for you,” Saxhaug sang, one of many lines that seemed fitting given how big a summer it’s becoming for the Trampled crew.
If you missed the broadcast, look for Thursday's concert in the 89.3 the Current archives.