Band of Horses – Hammerstein, NY NY 8.10.11

Well the pretty boy brothers in Kings of Leon were too tired to keep on touring, but their tour openers Band of Horses had energy to spare, so they booked the picturesque venue in central Manhattan to play a blowout show for their fans.  With everything happening quickly (the show was announced 1 week prior) there was a sense of coming together that was palpable inside Hammerstein and thankfulness for the special night emanated from the stage.

The evening began with an opening solo set from Dinosaur Jr. axe slinger J Mascis. While it was a one man act it certainly wasn’t tame, after focusing on his newest release Several Shades of Why he bit into some of the Dinosaur Jr. tunes using feedback loops and distortion with abandon.  His 6-string acoustic rumbled and fuzzed with electricity as J played his catalog swimmingly for 45 minutes.  Ben Bridwell came out to help on “Not Enough” as he did on the Several Shades of Why version as well.  Bridwell mentioned it was a “Dream come true” to be able to perform with Mascis and the duo blended effortlessly together.  J then closed his set with a distortion filled version of “Alone” that left ears ringing; quite a task for a solo “acoustic” set. 
Band of Horses came out mentioning that “We had this other tour” which received violent boo’s before they proclaimed “but we are here now!” to ovations.  The band brought the house down playing for nearly 2 hours, spanning their entire catalog (and tossing in some covers) for an excited fan base.  Opening with their most recent title track “Infinite Arms” the band seemed to be in celebration mode for the night.  “NW Apt” cooked with a punkish energy and “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” contained a noise ending mixing things up.  The group’s harmonics sounded heavenly underneath the painted angels on the ballroom ceiling, a perfect match on tunes like “Dilly” and “The Great Salt Lake”.  The energy kept rising even causing the floor to shake for “Is there a Ghost?” before couples swayed arm in arm during “Marry Song”. 

The multiple layers of sound this band conjures can seem simplistic when taken individually but the sum of all the parts is blindingly gorgeous.  The group amazes with a relaxed charm as vocals swell in front of nature films projected on stage; songs like “Ode to the LRC” and “No One’s Gonna Love You” had visuals to match the comforting tunes.  The encore opening stripped down duet of “Evening Kitchen” was majestic while the show closing cover of Them Two’s “Am I A Good Man” pulled out all the theatrical stops, ending the night on a high note. 

The band mentioned they were off to record a new album the next day (and even treated us to a new tune), here’s hoping tonight’s victorious vibe keeps on flowing in the studio. 

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