07 April 2011

[show review] - band of horses

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Every once in a while an indie band is lucky enough to accomplish something that outweighs the more moderate buzz-band bliss achieved by “successful” indie acts. Granted, it’s easy for us youngins to idolize musicians like Julian Lynch and Nathan Williams, who have enjoyed some degree of international acclaim, but what is their success really when compared to the modern status quo? The sad truth is that it probably isn’t what all of us liberal arts majors in universities across the world crack it up to be. The same cannot be said for South Carolina natives, Band of Horses however; the things accomplished by Bridwell and company in the last seven short years is nothing less than astounding in the realm of independent music.

Don’t get too carried away, though, because every up has its down, and unparalleled success can be a breeding ground for skepticism, especially when pretentious hipsters get involved. But before you get your American Apparel panties in a wad, let me say that it’s impossible for me to make such a statement without also slighting myself a bit. It’s true – when the Horses latest Grammy nominated album, Infinite Arms, came out last summer, I mounted my high horse and continually consoled myself with the thought that nothing would ever top their sophomore release, Cease to Begin. Last night I shamefully dismounted that horse.

After a solo performance by Tyler Ramsey, who is also the Horses lead guitarist, Band of Horses appeared on the legendary Tipitina’s stage to play a lengthy (but seemingly short) set for a sold out crowd. Before opening with a stunning electric rendition of the simple acoustic track “For Annabelle,” Bridwell shared with the crowd his bands intentions to “come out slow, and work [themselves] into a groove.” That’s precisely what they did, and that groove didn’t stop for close to two whole hours.

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While a projection screen flashed scenes of southern nature onto the wall behind the stage, the band meandered through their entire musical catalog, playing a balanced number of songs from all three of their albums. This is where I get on my soapbox to preach the importance of seeing this band if you have ever loved any of their music at any point in their career. As previously mentioned, I wasn’t overly impressed with Infinite Arms, but that didn’t stop ‘em from playing all my old favorites like “Marry Song,” “No One’s Gonna Love You,” and “The General Specific.”

After closing with what is apparently their “favorite closing song,” “Is There a Ghost,” the band returned on stage for a three song encore. The first piece was a little acoustic number shared by Ramsey and Bridwell alone, followed by “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands,” and finally what may be everyone’s favorite Band of Horses track, “Funeral.”

Let it be known that these southern boys know exactly what they’re doing – especially their sound guy. Bridwell’s loud, clear, and powerful vocals soar, and it’s obvious that he has a voice that is mature well beyond his years. In the end, the moral of this story is that you shouldn’t question whether it’s a good idea to go see this band if you’ve ever loved them like I do. And for heaven’s sake, if your bigotry allowed you feel the way that I did about Infinite Arms, give it a second chance. I know I will.

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No One's Gonna Love You

- Article written and composed by Justen Cheney
- All photos by Joshua Brasted

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