I saw the Band of Horses this Wednesday night (Oct. 6th) at the Brown Theatre. I’ve been a fan of them, specifically their debut 2006 album Everything All the Time, for about three and a half years now. I listened to some of their follow up, Cease to Begin (2007), and none of their latest Infinite Arms, released this May save for maybe one song on WFPK, the local public radio station here in Louisville. I mainly went to hear my favorites from their first album live, and the whole concert itself ended up exceeding my expectations.
Everything All the Time is an impressive album, particularly in the broad tonal breadth it encompasses. Many of the songs feel almost monumental in their mellifluous energy (i.e. “The Great Salt Lake”) contrasted with tunes that are more subdued and meditative (i.e. “Monsters”), along with one that incorporates both elements (i.e. “The Funeral,” a fan — and my personal — favorite). Their live show translated this range well.
The lighting design was one of the more impressive ones I’ve seen in my concert-going experience; the bar was set high after seeing Tegan and Sara on their latest tour back in the spring, the last concert I went to, that was free anyway. A mix of warm reds, purples, and oranges flashed to enhance the epic characteristic of the faster paced songs while static blues and whites set the tone for the gentler numbers. A projection screen sat behind them to display landscape images, appropriate for the mountain-esque and woodsy naturalistic ambiance in their music.
Now to the core of the concert: the music itself. The star of the show — just like their albums — was front man Benjamin Bridwell’s voice. It simply enthralls. It reverberates to create this captivating, ethereal, and haunting quality. This vocal trait is evident in their CDs, but actually hearing him live was a treat. He holds this subtle gregarious air about him that charms. And this feeling may be a product of his stage presence, but he’s pretty easy on the eyes too. As for the rest of the horses — this may be an overall critique of the band in general — they weren’t anything special in view of the rest of indie-southern rock world. I can say this for them though: I don’t claim to know much about the technical aspects of playing music, and I’m not going to pretend to, but it seemed to me like they played perfectly, at least as perfectly as I expect. I wish I could say the same for their opener, Brad. The other opener, Blake Mills, wasn’t too bad taking into account how amateur he is in a solo role.
They provided a good blend of new material with old despite my worry thirty minutes in. They played seven songs off their first album: “Wicked Gil,” “The Funeral,” “The Great Salt Lake,” “Weed Party,” “Part One,” “The First Song,” and “Monsters.” Regardless of some obnoxious woo! girls and yeah! guys chanting for it, they never did play “St. Augustine.” I mean, do you like any other songs? If I were to officially rate the concert, I would give it a 3 out of 4 stars.
If you haven’t checked them out, I suggest it, and start with Everything All the Time. I may be a little biased though. I never got into their newer stuff, because of the love affair I had with their original. The concert definitely makes me look forward to listening to the other two albums in their entirety, spawned from what I felt closing my eyes, hearing Bridwell echo in the venue, and it was like I was in multiple places at once: in my car by myself during many trips their CD accompanied me in a range of highs and lows in my life, and there in that auditorium surrounded by people, listening to them play their songs for me in person, almost transcending time, which really, is what the magic of music ends up amounting to.