Live: Band of Horses' Americana Apparel Fits Revolution Snugly, August 3

Benjamin_Bridwell_Monica_McGivern.jpg
Photo by Monica McGivern
Band of Horses
With Tyler Ramsey and Woody Chowder
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
Wednesday, August 3, 2011


View a 25-shot slide show from the concert here.

Better than: Going backstage, vomiting, and drinking a beer.

Although Kings of Leon stood to lose plenty by canceling 29 U.S. tour dates due to singer Caleb Followill's "exhaustion" -- maybe as much as $15 million and an incalculable amount of cred -- their opening act, Band of Horses, also faced a dire situation as soon as a month's work dried up. KOL is a platinum-selling act, and BOH would like to be someday. In terms of beards, swaying potential, and rootsy live acumen, it would seem to be a wise pairing to warm people up for the Kings with Benjamin Bridwell's one-of-a-kind vocal clarity, range, and power and his scruffy band's willingness to back a self-proclaimed "sad man complaining at 80 beats per minute." But could the aperitif play main course?

There were more than a few music fans with asymmetrical haircuts -- young women in oversized T-shirts hanging perfectly off their tanned shoulders and young men in plaid shirts rolled crisply to the sleeves --  in the will-call line before the show asking each other, "Did you originally buy tickets for the Kings of Leon show?" And "Oh, no way," was the overarching response. It could be that no one wants to be associated with a band currently clogging up TMZ next to Casey Anthony and Samantha Ronson, but there's also a level of mainstream acceptance that Band of Horses has yet to reach that keeps them more rooted in Sub Pop culture (their old label) as opposed to Columbia (their current one).

Not that there were a ton of people who seemed to want to discuss the music industry on this night, but the old-school hustle employed by promoters and Revolution's staff bordered upon acrobatic. If anything, a hastily announced show with a semiproven band at a 1,000-capacity venue -- as well as that $30 ticket -- was far from a guaranteed success. But attendance proved to be brisk, and half-full plastic cups lined any flat surface by midway through the evening.

What was instead felt throughout the room was the wet slide into a washbasin of Band of Horses' down-home, South Carolina (via Seattle) stew of Americana (by request). Set to a backdrop of a thinly packed forest, the poly-tattooed Bridwell in a snug-fitting polo shirt led us deep into their rustic, earthy ways of rock that are more than a respected type of musical entertainment at the moment. Bits of Fleet Foxes, Dr. Dog, Bon Iver, My Morning Jacket, and yes, the Kings of Leon, overlap with the five-piece act's scraggly, union suit-meets-American Apparel appearance, but it's hard to picture anyone as ready to jump into a rural cowpoke fantasy as bassist Bill Reynolds -- somewhere, John Prine was smiling.
Band_Of_Horses_Bass_Monica_McGivern.jpg
Photo by Monica McGivern
And perhaps this is what a crowd very in touch with its own coolness needed to just relax for an evening. Sad-eyed ladies of the lowlands with thick eyeshadow and exquisitely painted lips peered intently at the blue-tinted stage and sang along without qualms. Many of them were leaning in the crook of a man's (or woman's) arm for the duration, and Band of Horses' specific BPM standards allowed for couples to continue their nostalgic young-adult friction throughout the arguably upbeat moments of the evening, like "Laredo," from last year's Infinite Arms

Although the band's recording history ventures back only to the mid-aughts (and yes, Bridwell had bands prior to BOH), the lyrical content has that undercurrent of lifetimes of past troubles hidden in its honeysuckle arrangements. From "Laredo": "I put a bullet in my Kia Lorenzo/A kitchen knife fucked in my face/Throw me in the deep of Jenner Lake/Believe me when I say/That oh, my love, you don't even call/And oh, my love, is that you on the phone?" Even if Band of Horses has the capability to write a corporate radio-ready ballad like "Use Somebody," they haven't the stones to put it on an album just yet.

Songs "Is There a Ghost," "No One's Gonna Love You," and "The Funeral" -- remembered for selling domestic automobiles and creating umpteen climactic moments on TV and film -- represent the closest attempts at the sweeping, epic songcraft that perhaps would earn Band of Horses their own headlining tour of the massive performance sheds Kings of Leon had at their disposal. And notably, these are the three songs that ended the initial set for the evening. Credit Bridwell and company for stretching what had been opener-length sets on their tour to this point into a full-throttle evening of entertainment, but up until this trio of songs, the intensity didn't stick. After "The Funeral" wrapped, a local musician who was elated during much of the night wanted it noted that he was planning to leave before the encore -- and many others followed suit -- which doesn't speak favorably to the depth of the BOH catalog.     

For those who stayed, the arc of the night proved to be evolutionary. All of the "openers" were members of the band. Guitarist Tyler Ramsey began the night playing blues-inflected solo material on a stool, then Bridwell joined him for some tight harmonies for some material under the Woody Chowder moniker, and midway through "Ode to LRC," the rest of the band sauntered onstage. By the encore, Band of Horses was finally playing as loose-limbed as their audience.
Bridwell_2_Monica_McGivern.jpg
Photo by Monica McGivern

Not to say that the guys need to stir up Caleb Followill-level turmoil and onstage debauchery to keep a crowd in the palm of their hands, but it wasn't until the final few songs that Bridwell's mouthful of enormous teeth opened as wide as they could go and he started punching the air (and a pedal steel that wasn't getting properly amplified). A live moment such as this is what earns a band an "authenticity" tag moreso than greasy beards and woodsy motifs, and it's a hope for Band of Horses that they recognize the difference. If they develop more material set to match that mode, the Kings' throne awaits.

What eventually came out of Bridwell's massive pipes for the "Am I a Good Man" cover was perhaps the most striking, workingman performance of the evening. As he waved his inked arms, a wild-eyed energy surged onstage. It was a striking, soulful end, but it should have been the beginning.

Critic's Notebook

Fact:
Disaster semi-averted as Band of Horses will play a few more headlining shows in cities where they were set to open for KOL.

Overheard:
"If there was a horse onstage, I'd shit myself." "I hope they play a My Morning Jacket cover."

The crowd:
A cross section of people who consider themselves to be hip. And these adorable kids.
Band_of_Horses_Kids_Monica_McGivern.jpg
Photo by Monica McGivern
 Random detail: Yes, there was a deer on the amp.
Deer_Amp_Monica_McGivern.jpg
Photo by Monica McGivern

Set List:

Ode to LRC - second half with full band
Wicked Gil
The General Specific
Laredo
Marry Song
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
Factory
Dilly
For Annabelle
Detlef Schrempf
Window Blues
Older
Part One
Infinite Arms
Too Soon
The Great Salt Lake
Is There a Ghost
No One's Gonna Love You
The Funeral

Encore:
Our Swords
Blue Beard
Snow Song
NW Apt.
Weed Party
Monsters/Bart
Am I a Good Man (Them Two cover)


Follow County Grind on Facebook and Twitter: @CountyGrind


Location Info

Map

Revolution Live

100 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL

Category: Music

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16 comments
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Hiding behind some fake name
Hiding behind some fake name

It's not a good review. Sorry. Good social commentary? Yes. If you're posting articles to a site that allows comments (so almost every site on the internet), you should be able to take the criticism. 

When you say you've spoken to friends that did and did not like the show...why did they go then? BoH is continuing to tour for their fans that know and love them. I've seen them open 3 of their own shows over the past 4 years and I don't think they're aspiring to be what KoL or any other band is. That's what is so great about them. After speaking to numerous people who've read your review, we're all in agreement. Perhaps that's because we're all fans and you didn't seem to have been very familiar with them until the show. Which really is a shame since this is your job.

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

I've been listening to Band of Horses since their first album, and while they have not developed into one of favorite bands since then, this was not intended as a negative review of their performance. Thank you for the criticism. It means a lot that you took the time to read the review, and gave it some thought.

Hater Alert
Hater Alert

Does Rolling Stone now employ angry teenagers who are sensitive about their asymmetrical haircuts? Or, has County Grind just been schooled by the president of the unofficial Band of Horses fan club? No professional journalist could write in prose that so closely resembles a whining baby. No one who's actually working on their next story would have the time or motivation to pick apart such a solid review. It's great to see a selection of songs from the concert here, but who cares if they're all there or if they're a little out of order? Band of Horses has a great sound. The beginning of the set was sweet, the end was killer and the middle was all right. They even have a few hits you can sing along to. Great! Who cares?

BTW, why would people have to liken the BOH concert to "an amazingly emotional and intimate show" (which it wasn't for me or for my friends who got bored and left early) if that's in fact what it was. 

That being said, I enjoyed both the show (within reason) and reliving its highlights here. 

Internet Troll

Kyleownsyou
Kyleownsyou

you sound like you know the writer of the review...oh, wait, you do! dork. kys.

Kyle

Rolling Stone Contributing
Rolling Stone Contributing

Don't get defensive. I'm being critical. You seem to have the right spirit, just the wrong direction; We, as readers, look to be informed on the show. Instead, we get someone's comparative of contrasted music. We need not know why Band of Horses could'nt hold attention due to what you consider to be their weakness. Maybe this is an opinion editorial, and I'm missing the point. But, perhaps you were not so familiar with your assignment/subject. Practically every local fan I've talked to likened last night to an ' amazingly,emotional and intimate show'. Yet, all I was able to extract from your review is that Band of Horses are not as big as headlining bands because of ____ (insert random variable). Nice job of sarcastically describing the crowd,though. It almost seems as if someone didn't care to be there. Best wishes in championing the beleaguered art of writing, sir. I'm quite sure pitchfork.com could use someone like yourself. Ciao!

maura
maura

it is always so funny when a person complaining about lazy writing uses lazy pejoratives to make his "point"

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

If you really are who your e-mail suggests you are, "Rolling Stone Contributing," you shouldn't behave like just another internet troll and hide behind some fake name -- let alone the name of the publication you work for.

Thank you for clicking on my article again. Trust me, I don't mind getting lame comments from non-journalists, but if you flew down specially to be at the show -- and you're obviously capable of writing something -- where is YOUR review?

Your response to this review is somewhat baffling because: a) what I wrote was mostly positive b) your raw copy needs a good edit, and it's unclear what you mean half the time.

"Practically every local fan I've talked to likened last night to an ' amazingly,emotional and intimate show'. Yet, all I was able to extract from your review is that Band of Horses are not as big as headlining bands because of ____ (insert random variable)." I think I know what you mean there, sort of. Read a little more closely, and I assure you there's evidence for all of my claims. I spoke to plenty of my friends about the show -- some enjoyed it, and some did not. I've watched enough bands perform to grasp when they are doing a good job and when they are lacking a connection to the crowd.

Thank you so much for the free career advice, though. I'm very happy and busy at my job here, but I'd be honored to be among the ranks of the many great music journalists who write for Pitchfork. If you haven't read Douglas Wolk or Tom Ewing lately, I recommend it, and Rolling Stone features writing from folks who have contributed to Pitchfork every day. If they see your uninformed comment about them, I'm sure they'll know better than to take it to heart.

I better get back to "championing the beleaguered art of writing" now before it's too late.

Rolling Stone Contributing
Rolling Stone Contributing

Could you please refrain from emailing me? I have said what I said, and I do not wish to keep in contact. Please,and seriously, stop emailing me! Thank you.

Pat Jameson
Pat Jameson

Wow, I just came in on this conversation. It's funny how some people think they can critique peoples reviews, especially good ones like this, Reed. But, honestly, the person is kind of right. You compare everything to Kings of Leon! Seriously, stop!!Lol And don't let them get under your skin. It sounds like they got to you, Reed. Never let them see you sweat. Besides, you work at fucking New Times! Lol Thats a free paper that gets thrown away more than read, don't take what you do too seriously. They are a big douche for saying they are from Rolling Stone, but by replying to them you only brought yourself down to the same level of douche-baggery!! Haha

Rolling Stone Contributing
Rolling Stone Contributing

I heard 'evening kitchen' and ' on my way back home', before ' ode to Lrc'.Update your set list. Concert was amazing...Your review sucks, btw.

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

Thanks for the click! I'll let you know if I have anything positive to say about your comment, btw.

Fat Hand
Fat Hand

I don't care about his sleep, but I do like Reed's prose. Great concert...

SB
SB

Does Reed ever sleep?

ErinHilburn
ErinHilburn

Reed is superhuman, he does not need sleep like the mere mortals :)

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