Friday, September 15, 2006

Concert Review: Band of Horses

I had the pleasure of seeing Band of Horses last night at the Black Cat in Washington, DC. They've been featured twice on All You Need Is Hops. By the time the doors opened the show was sold out, a nice achievement for a relatively small band (maybe they aren’t so small then I guess). I wasn’t sure what to expect given that their album really relies on singer Ben Bridwell's soulful nuanced voice and the fact that they have one album which is less than 40 minutes long. But all was well, and I was very satisfied with the evening.

The show started off with Simon Dawes opening. I assumed this was a singer/songwriter but it is in fact a band that neither features Simon nor Dawes. Discuss amongst yourselves. They were surprisingly good and managed to gain the attention of the few people who showed up early/on-time for the concert. They were clearly very young and their sound seems like its developing still, but at times I dug their vibe. I also chuckled seeing them high-five each other after selling a couple of CD’s at the merch booth in the back. They didn’t even have the token girl selling merch for them, just them.

The second opener was Chad VanGaalen. I wish he was the first opener because it was difficult to see and hear him by this point. His vibe was questionable as he looked kind of ridiculous wearing a white headband. But after listening to some of his music he is all about being ridiculous. One song I could hear clear was about a bottle being inserted into … a gril's rumpus. Interesting. I’m reserving judgment to a time when I can give him a fair listen, but he certainly wasn’t bad. I just didn’t pay that much attention. One thing to note was that two members of Simon Dawes came out for a song.

Finally, Band of Horses took the stage and the sold out crowd greeting them with a big round of applause. For the most part the crowd actually seemed to know the band, other than the typical DC indie crowd which just shows up because it’s a band they’re “supposed” to like and to compete in the “I have the coolest and most ironic t-shirt” Olympics. If you’ve been there you now what I’m talking about. Back to the music – the band played almost all of the songs off their debut album (with St. Augustine being sadly left out) as well as a few covers. It was absolutely fantastic hearing the music I’ve been blasting out my windows this summer being played at a volume my top of the line Japanese automobile can’t come close to reaching. Singer Ben Bridwell’s voice was spot-on and his voice was as good live as it is on CD, not studio tricks with him. The band was solid, helped by the addition of the same two members of Simon Dawes on guitar and keyboards. It definitely added a rock element to the show. Also, it had to be the first time I’ve ever seen guys play in three out of three bands during a concert. That was cool.

Overall, I had a great time. The new material they introduced (3 or 4 new songs if I remember) all showed lots of promise and their covers (“You Don’t Have to Call Me By My Name” by David Allen Coe and “Showdown” by ELO which closed the show), were enjoyable. For the most part they didn’t stray too far from their studio sound but weren’t boring on stage. While Bridwell did pretty much stay put, he was engaging and funny and certainly not full of pretense. If you like the band (and you should), I recommend seeing them in concert.

Download "The Funeral"

Next week: Citizen Cope at 9:30 Club!


Jordan said...

See and I thought the most questionable part of the Chad VanGaalen show was when he was talking about sh*ting into a condom, freezing it, then using it as a sex-toy. Either way, the guy was from Canada and sees to like the a$$. But did sound a little like a young Neil Young, so I’ll give him that.

Hops said...

Ha... I totally blocked that from my memory. For a review of his part of the show from another source more familiar with his music go here:

includes and MP3 link