September 7, 2011

the world is such a wonderful place: Band of Horses concert review

There is something exceedingly uplifting and near-transcendent about a Band of Horses show, especially if you can wedge yourself down in the front where the waves of sound crash over you and your feet vibrate throughout the entire show from the bass.

After Kings of Leon canceled the tour where BOH was opening, dates were rescheduled with just the Seattle quintet in smaller venues. I found myself grateful to get to see them in that dark, small Fox Theatre on Monday night instead of the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre or wherever they were scheduled to play before.

It’s been years since I have seen BOH live, and since then they’ve released the newest album, Infinite Arms, and further perfected their excoriating live show. It was a holistic music-enjoyment experience for me, as they project an endless stream of images on the large screen behind them throughout the night.

My brain soared all over the place, as the images of wheatfields and old barns and crowded parties and starry nights swirled and spun into their songs. I loved the way the show tied together the visual with the auditory, because that’s how I hear music. This was especially potent on “Ode to LRC” where the crowd sang along with the line, “The world is such a wonderful place,” as scenes flashed rapid-fire behind the band, or as “Is There a Ghost” was sung in front of stars and a crescent moon. Yes.

Their songs are all universally bigger on-stage, with a greater energy; I found it to be way more Neil Young/expansive-70s-country-rock than I expected. Every song was dazzling, and even the loping dreamy ones on the records took on an urgent, dynamic air.

It’s also clear from watching this band that they all genuinely like each other, and that chemistry crackles back and forth between their music while they are on-stage. This was especially apparent during the encore performance of “Evening Kitchen” (one of my favorite songs on the new album), performed with just Ben Bridwell and guitarist Tyler Ramsey, who wrote the song.

The evening was one of those rare concert experiences where everything comes a little unsewn inside you, and for two blissful hours you are redeemed.

Also: a note about the opener. After recording a Chapel Session with me on Saturday afternoon, BOH guitarist Tyler Ramsey opened the show with his intricately haunting solo material. Watching his fingers fly over the strings again was spell-binding. His new solo album The Valley Wind comes out on Fat Possum later this month, and I can’t wait to share that chapel session with you guys.



  • I saw remember seeing Band Of Horses at Lolla in ’09. They were delayed due to an overrun of Lou Reed’s set (totally forgivable) and started to push into the Jane’s Addiction time. I was blown away by the crowd response that somehow convinced the festival to let BOH play against Perry’s own band! And you know what? They blew them out of the water, one of the most unexpectedly amazing experiences I’ve had concertgoing. Your review confirms everything about that.

    Your Narrator — September 8, 2011 @ 12:24 am

  • Oh man, BOH is one of the best live bands I’ve seen. I got to see them at an Austin City Limits taping last year, and the one time the camera panned over my face you could see the giant smile I wore the whole show.

    @Your Narrator, I was at that set and it remains one of my favorite musical performances of all time. Perfect.

    Beth Ann — September 8, 2011 @ 8:58 am

  • What a great band. I was fortunate enough to see them several times in Seattle when they were still calling themselves Horses. (Check out Ben Bridwell’s previous band, Carissas Wierd sometime, btw.) I was a bit disappointed by the last album, but only because it seemed as if many of the songs couldn’t breathe. I’m not at all surprised they come to life onstage.

    Tyler Ramsey is terrific in his own right too! Can’t wait to hear the new album.

    Kelly — September 8, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  • What a fantastic review about one of my all time favorite bands. Sadly, I have not yet seen BOH live as South Africa is not often on a bands itinerary. The description of the songs ‘is there a ghost’ and ‘Ode to LRC’ ( 2 of my favourite BOH songs ) gave me goosebumps. Can not WAIT to see them Live .
    Great site , cant get enough of it .

    Megan — September 9, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

  • I saw them Thursday night at the Wiltern in LA. Another amazing show!

    I also saw them last September, the day after proposing to my now wife. So seeing them a year later was a great point to look back at an amazing year.

    I completely agree on the band liking each other… I have so much more fun at shows when the band is too.

    steve — September 12, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  • Aw shoot-we didn’t get Evening Kitchen at the Denver show. BUT, we did get an amazing evening that left all of us floating home.

    kc — September 12, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  • I too was at Lolla 09 and couldn’t agree more. They made that small corner of Grant Park feel like a club gig, compact and sweaty. Crowd on top form too. Blew Janes Addiction away.

    Gary — April 26, 2012 @ 5:53 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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