Blind Pilot @ Stage AE 3/24/2016

We’ve had nothing but radio silence from Blind Pilot since their 2012 tour ended. They’ve done a few one-off shows here and there, but no mention of a new album, or new tour aside from sporadic, unclear social media posts. When they showed up as a supporting act for Vance Joy, we were certainly surprised but also very curious to see what the Portland-based sextet had in store for the evening.

From the moment frontman Israel Nebeker’s better-than-recordings-can-capture voice soared through Stage AE’s sound system, it was clear that the hiatus from touring hadn’t set the band’s live performance back at all. As the rest of band joined in for the first chorus of second album favorite Half Moon they left no doubt that Blind Pilot was back and better than ever. 

First album favorite The Story I Heard followed Half Moon, sounding more like the iTunes EP version of the track, produced by legend Ticker Martine, than the first album version. The primary difference being that the band is presented as a cohesive sextet rather than the original duo, Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dobrowski, with accenting parts from the other four, as the first album put forth. 

Surprisingly, Pittsburgh seemed like it was just holding its breath waiting for Blind Pilot. Stage AE was packed long before their set despite the show’s early start time. When the band came onstage the crowd erupted in cheers and immediately started singing along to Half Moon. While the audience had certainly come to see Vance Joy’s music, they were no strangers to Blind Pilot’s discography and were thrilled to see the band back in full force. 

Throughout the set, Blind Pilot played a few new songs and mentioned that they’re going to be dropping a new album over the summer - news that was met with thunderous applause. The new tracks fit right into Blind Pilot’s brand of cozy, thoughtful, well-arranged folk music, showcasing the entire band as a very cohesive whole supporting Nebeker’s sensitive songwriting. 

The band closed the set with crowd favorites Three Rounds and A Sound and We Are The Tide. The crowd exuberantly sang along to both, despite the somber nature of the former and the triumphant tone of the latter. Blind Pilot then left the stage to go meet fans at the merch table, where they were inundated with requests for pictures and autographs. For Nebeker and his band, it must’ve felt good to be back. Judging by the roar of applause after Blind Pilot’s set, their fans were similarly excited for the band’s bright future.