Live Review: Band of Horses at Independent
Lightning in a Bottle.
I first heard this phrase when reading the liner notes on my “Waylon (Jennings) Live” CD. It is used when an artist is at the absolute top of their game, and everything falls into place, making a specific show, on a specific night, a perfect experience for the audience and the band. I have wanted to use this phrase at the right time to describe a show and many have come close, but Band of Horses @ The Independent made the expression truly appropriate.
Everything All the Time is the band’s debut release. It’s garnered some hype and is getting serious “album of the year” recognition in certain press circles. The sound is a little like the Shins, a little My Morning Jacket, which is to say archetypal northwest rock ‘n’ roll. Ben Bidwell (who used to be the drummer of Carrissa’s Weird) steps up as the frontman. The album is beautifulâ€¦heavy and light at the same time with more than a touch of melancholy in it.
The band was an hour late, and didn’t actually take the stage until close to 11PM. Animal Collective’s “Sung Tongs” was playing loudly to keep us from getting too bored. Out of nowhere the music stopped and Chamillionaire’s “Ridin” came on and some rap fans start bouncing to show their eclectic music tastes. Ben Bidwell and other band mates bopped their heads along to the beat. The song is about police trying to catch the narrator ridding dirty, or ridding with some illegal merchandise in the car. Ben explained why the band was late and we later learned the reason for Chamillionaire’s “Ridin.” He told us of a run in with the law where he was caught ridding dirty on the way to play a show with none other than Shooter Jennings, who is the son of the man who caught lightning in a bottle.
The band seemed loose and the transition from drummer to front man looked easy for Bidwell. He smiled throughout the show, and was self-deprecating when the band made an error: “We’ve been on tour for five weeks, you’d think we’d know our songs!” He seemed like a stoner in a good way: smart, and a little delicate. Unexpectedly, the guys were able to shake the melancholy of the record and the songs crackled with positive energy. “Monsters” built until the whole audience shouted: “If I am lost, it’s only for a little while!” “Wicked Gil” and “Our Swords” lathered up the crowd. To everyone’s surprise they did an awesome cover of Hall & Oats “You Make My Dreams” They closed the set with “The Funeral” and the crowd sang the “ooh-ooh” parts and it made my knees a little weak with how pretty it sounded. The stoic beauty of “At every occasion I’ll be ready for a funeral” had the audience pumping their fists back to the stage and Bidwell smiled in recognition. The band didn’t make us wait too long to come back out and played an alternate version of “Monsters” that played better than the version on Everything All the Time. The energy that filled the room throughout the show was truly electric. People filled the Independent, making eye contact with each other in recognition of what they had just witnessed.
Lightning in a Bottle.
- Review submitted by Jeff Bracco.