12 February 2008

What Do You Grow at a Music Farm?

Band of Horses @ Music Farm, Charleston, SC

I've been waiting for Band of Horses to convince me they were more than just another flashy band on Sub Pop. I thought that that time might never come. I thought I would have to begrudgingly smile and tell people, "Yeah, Band of Horses are great and we're proud they call this state home." I didn't want that to happen, but I was as prepared for it as I was a George W. Bush victory in 2004. Thankfully, Sunday night's show at the Music Farm proved me wrong.

Originally scheduled for the much smaller (i.e., intimate) Village Tavern in Mt. Pleasant, SC, the show was rescheduled for two days earlier (from Tues, Feb 12 to Sunday, Feb 10). But apparently a slot on Conan O'Brien takes precedence over a homecoming show and thus, we all ended up highly confused, standing in lines patiently for doors to open (Where did you buy your tickets from originally? What "Will Call" list are you on? Did you already pay? We don't know if the show is sold out.) No harm, no foul, though--at least they showed up. The band had to cancel two dates in Florida due to flu and Ben Bridwell losing his voice.

I wandered around outside while Tyler Ramsey played Red House Painters-esque tunes. And felt bored shitless while Cass McCombs and the Middle Class plodded through a set that I thought would never end. But by 10:15, when the house lights went out and Bridwell announced to a screaming crowd, "Hey everybody, we're Band of Horses and we're from here!" and the first sleepy lull of "Is There a Ghost" chimed out of his Gibson, followed by a three-guitar, six-man wall of sound, you couldn't have kicked the smile off my face.

I could have left after the first thirty minutes: the aforementioned "Is There a Ghost," followed by "Islands on the Coast," and the aptly titled "The First Song"--still one of the best opening tracks on any album I've bought in five years--was what I came to hear. (Admit it, we all go hoping to hear that one song.) And I screamed, and clapped, and did the white-man rock bounce. And I didn't even want to punch the college frat-fuck next to me for saying that he couldn't wait to hear "that song from 'One Tree Hill.'"(That's "The Funeral" for anyone keeping track at home.)

In truth, the crowd was a bit subdued for the final show on their North American Winter tour; not to mention a show in their hometown. But the band didn't seem to notice. And Bridwell had a smile ripped across his face the whole time like a man who loves music as much as the fans do. And he does, too, from what I can see--playing three covers in a 100 minute set seems excessive, but he did it and didn't care what the rules were. As long as the music was loud and everyone felt good about being together, he felt good about showing it. So, when the encore came and he asked us if we wanted to stick around for two more songs, no one complained--even when they closed out the night with a cover of Chicago's "Feelin' Stronger Everyday." There's a metaphor in there, buried skin-deep, I believe. But there was definitely no irony to it. And that only makes me appreciate their music even more.

Concert photos up on Flickr soon.

The Set List:
Is There a Ghost
Islands on the Coast

The Great Salt Lake
Weed Party

The First Song
Our Swords
Cigarettes Wedding Bands
J.J Cale cover (?)
Part One
Keyboardist played a song that I did not catch the title of
The Funeral
Wicked Gil

Ode to LRC
Act Together (Rolling Stones/Ron Wood cover)

No One's Gonna Love You
The General Specific
Marry Song
Feelin' Stronger Everyday (Chicago Cover)

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