Bluegrass Shredders Trampled by Turtles Melted Our Faces off at Gruene Hall

click to enlarge Trampled by Turtles getting down at Gruene Hall. - Chris Conde
Chris Conde
Trampled by Turtles getting down at Gruene Hall.
Living in a city where we hold guitar-shreddery sacred, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to catch one of the sickest Americana/bluegrass bands of all time.

If you’ve not familiar with Minnesota’s Trampled by Turtles, they basically play technical metal in major keys and on folk instruments like the fiddle, banjo and mandolin.

Last night at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, they did not disappoint.

Opening the evening was Portland, Maine’s Ghost of Paul Revere, a five-piece folk act whose three-part harmonies could make you cry. The band played a steady 45-minute set as the floor seemed to groan under the weight of the audience piling into the 141-year-old venue.

The crowd was a mixed scene of 20-to-50-somethings in an array of plaid button-up shirts, boots, Vans shoes, cowboy hats and sports coats — a true testament to the vast demographic Trampled by Turtles draws.

After an intermission that felt a little longer than it needed to be, Trampled by Turtles took to the stage, jumping into the newish “We All Get Lonely” from 2018’s Life Is Good on the Open Road. The crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers.

While every member of the six-piece ensemble is clearly talented, fiddle player Ryan Young stole the show.

Young played just the right amount of riffs (is that what you call fiddle notations?) to give each song song depth and dynamic, before suddenly tearing into ridiculous shredding solos that could put Yngwie Malmsteem to shame.

The entire hall shook as the audience stomped along to the hyper-tempo numbers that felt almost like Slayer songs, only without distortion and without a drummer. And that was another amazing part of the band’s performance: the way they were able to build such a monstrous sound without any percussion.

After an hour-and-a-half of traveling through its catalog, Trampled by Turtles ended the set with “Wait So Long” from 2011 Palomino — a clear fan-favorite and their second most-played track on Spotify. The band returned for a few encore numbers after the crowd stomped in unison to draw the members back onstage.

On a perfectly cool night in New Braunfels, a Minnesota band brought the heat, and our faces were thoroughly melted off.

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