Band of Horses
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The Wild West-style checked shirts are out in force at the Scala tonight. And rightly so: this is, after all, a rather special event. Band of Horses are making their London debut as part of a brief four-date UK tour, taking in a set at ATP. You will, hopefully, recall last year’s reverb-soaked Everything All The Time, a rather fine album that shifted 'bare' units the world over and contributed towards the recent resurgence of their label, Sub Pop. If not, here is our review.
Frontman Ben Bridwell, ever the homeboy sporting a South Carolina t-shirt and later a Boise State baseball cap, takes to the stage all smiles and southern drawls, proclaiming "We're gonna have a dang good time". And have a “dang good time” is precisely what we do.
Playing as a six-piece, the majority sporting impressive beards and full sleeves of body art, Band Of Horses kick off their set with the first of what is ultimately three new songs; they add a tinge of alt-country rock to their already impressive arsenal. Recently transplanted back to South Carolina after Bridwell had spent ten years in Seattle playing in Carissa’s Wierd (yes, ‘ie’ – they’re the undisputed winners of 'the greatest band never to have fulfilled their potential' award), the Horses are said to be nearing the completion of their as-yet-untitled second album.
But it is the anthems from Everything All The Time that this crowd has come for, and they flow like the beer at a frat party. The “ye-haw” at the beginning of 'Weed Party' kicked off the ho-down with the foot-stomping vigor of the very best of deep-south shindigs. New single 'The Funeral' (new over here, anyway) is received with a rambunctious uproar. Bridwell grins like a chipmunk. However, the Scala's sound system does little to aid the recreation of the shimmering melodies found on Everything All The Time, and one of the album’s standout tracks, 'The Great Salk Lake', is drowned, never to be resuscitated. For a band that relies on a sound swimming so thick in reverb, this is a crying shame. Thankfully, quieter numbers such as ‘Monsters’ and ‘Part One’ cut through the sold-out venue with a sobering beauty.
Emerging from backstage swigging on a bottle of bourdon for a one-song encore – a cover of David Alan Coe's ‘You Don't Even Call Me By My Name’ – the only disappointment is the denial of a second encore following tumultuous applause and (for a brief period) unwavering requests from the audience. The lights come on and we find ourselves ejected back to reality with a jolt; thankfully, the warm summer dream-like daze weaved into our minds remains.
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