It wasn’t the usual audience at the Bishop on this particular night. Hands holding pints were more common than hands marked by X’s as many of Bloomington’s grown-up crowd made the scene for the sold out show. It’s not really surprising either, that those who did end up getting tickets were likely the bands longest supporters.
“We’ve been following the band for well over 10 years,” says Bloomington patron Mollie Delrecchio, “We bought our tickets 4-5 months ago, as soon as we heard about the show.” I know I wasn’t even in high school yet when these fans first began paying attention to Tortoise.
Tortoises are seen as a symbol of longevity in many different cultures
When the band finally took stage, they were greeted wildly with applause.
“Thanks everyone. We are going to make this one short and sweet,” yelled out Dan Bitney, one of Tortoise’s musicians. The cheers quickly turned to disapproval. “No? O.K. we will make it long and nasty,” he finished.
And with that, the band launched into a flurry of musicianship. On set, there were 2 drum sets, two synthesizers and tons of auxiliary percussion. John Herndon even came off stage and played xylophone amidst a crowd of fans; only a foot away from me! The set had many dancing, and at least everyone swaying in some capacity to the rhythm and groove. Improvisations were frequent and many of the songs jammed out for indeterminate periods of time, the band barely pausing to go into new tracks. Tortoise went on to play an extensive set, accented by a triple encore.
The Tortoise is often described as a reclusive animal
After the set, many went outside to escape the heat and converse with the band. Tortoise played the Buskirk-Chumley over five years ago and when asked what has been keeping them away so long, Bitney noted a few factors.
“We hadn’t had a record come out in a few years,” said Bitney, “Plus, a lot of its up to our producers and the people who book us. We are glad to make it back. You can’t beat a venue like this. The energy can’t travel in a big concert hall. These smalls shows are fun.”
Despite the long absence, the fans were thankful and the evening turned out great!