What do you do when the headliners of the tour you’re on throw in the towel after the first three dates? If you’re the Band of Horses, you saddle up and hit the road your damn selves. After The Kings of Leon called it quits due to “vocal issues and exhaustion”, the opening band, a hard-working five-piece from South Carolina known simply as Band of Horses found themselves with some unforeseen free time and a mission to not let down their fans. Trading in the amphitheaters and outdoor pavilions for cozy concert halls and night clubs, the Horses brought their unique style of indie/southern rock to Virginia Beach’s newly established Jewish Mother.
It’s a rare treat to see one of the best bands in rock right now play a small venue and at a packed house of 450, the sold-out crowd was full of die-hard fans giddy about the band that didn’t leave them behind. The Horses easily could have filled up Richmond’s The National or DC’s 9:30 Club, both with capacities of around 1200, but instead they stayed true to their commitment and galloped through Virginia Beach for an oh-so grateful audience 1/3 the size.
It was all smiles when the band took the stage and lead singer Ben Bridwell immediately threw out his hands to the crowd in a heartfelt gesture of both excitement and gratitude while introducing each of his band-mates. His sincerity continued on when he informed us “things are about to get weird” and the band kicked off with a cover of the mid-60′s soul tune “Am I A Good Man” by Them Two. With Bridwell’s arms flailing about like a man possessed, the raw energy of the crowd elevated to new heights. After thunderous applause, the band dove into their catalog with a trippy version of “Compliments” from last year’s Grammy-nominated album Infinite Arms. The band then played an ideal mix-up of songs from all three of their albums giving each one a new depth and slightly harder edge thanks to an incredibly passionate performance. Rarely have I seen that much sheer enjoyment and energy from a band playing music outside of a final tour or reunion show. The enthusiasm even got the best of lead singer Ben Bridwell once or twice when he forgot lines because he was so caught up in the moment. Mistakes like this are easily forgiven especially when a band offers you the “cheap thrill” of incorporating your town’s name into the lyrics as was done with the earnest ballad “Part One (Savannah). The band was on point in all facets and their easily accessible wispy southern rock was the perfect remedy for a hot summer night.
Crowd favorites “The Great Salt Lake” and “Weed Party” served as raucous anthems to the youth and seemed like perfect songs this close to the fun-in-the-sun of the Atlantic ocean. “The General Specific” was an all-out barn burner and keyboardist Ryan Monroe successfully took the lead on his harmony-laden tune “Older”. The band then played a new song which Bridwell introduced by saying “We’re gonna start making a new records pretty soon I guess. This is one of the songs, a new one, but it has no fuckin chance to make this record.” Applause ensued. “Is There A Ghost” was perfect but “Monsters” stood out as another winner when Bridwell took his seat at the slide guitar and belted out “monsters” in a rage against these “awful people that surround you”. Bridwell’s high-pitch was perfectly complimented by the pounding drums and onslaught of guitars.
After taking another minute or two to thank the crowd, the venue and their crew, Bridell humorously stated there would be one more song. In a jovial manner he then quipped,”Alright, let’s get depressed!” before playing the opening chords to “The Funeral” resulting in a roar of applause from the crowd. Hand’s down the most recognized Band of Horses song, “The Funeral” is a tune equal parts sad and beautiful and in many ways a parallel for the situation these guys found themselves in after the KOL tour died out. Sometimes true greatness can be found in awful situations and there is no better example than the Band of Horses, who have lived to rock another day.
Am I A Good Man (Them Two Cover)
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
Ode to LRC
Part One (Virginia)
The Great Salt Lake
The General Specific
Mirage – new track “with no fuckin’ chance of making the record”
Is There A Ghost
No One’s Gonna Love You
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