Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spot-on performance somewhat of a head scratcher

Photograph by B. Nanna

It was a packed-to-the-rafters, sold-out Metro for the second of Band of Horses' two-night stand. As an admitted recent BOH junkie, I was just as excited as everyone else to see bearded Ben and the boys rip through all of my favorites from Everything All the Time and Cease to Begin. After setting up their own gear to little fanfare and taking the stage to a little more fanfare with Ben Bridwell asking the crowd, "How y'all doing?" and then responding "We are also 'woo!'", they began with the grand opener of "Is There a Ghost." This is the grandiose cathartic beginning to, in my opinion, the best album of 2007. It should have been the grand beginning to one of the best shows of 2007… but it wasn't.

The band sounded brilliant. Bridwell's voice was in tip-top shape and rockers like "The Great Salt Lake," "Weed Party" and "Our Swords" were spot on. In fact, if you listened to the audio of the show, you'd think you missed the most exciting show of your life. The truth is Band of Horses looked bored. This thought crossed my mind even before Bridwell, prior to the gorgeous "Marry Song," made this announcement to the crowd: "This might be a good time to go to the bathroom. The set gets a little boring here." If that was the extent of the self-deprecation, then one could chalk it up to awkward charm. It wasn't. Afterwards he matter-of-factly mused, "Here's another boring one," and then launched into my favorite track from Cease to Begin, "No One's Gonna Love You." He then mentioned the word "boring" three times before beginning the fan favorite "The Funeral." My reaction was, "Wow, if he thinks this song is boring, then I must be a total chump for loving it so much."

The band showed the most enthusiasm by far during the closer of their set, a cover of "Am I A Good Man?" by Them Two. This was the energetic rocker that the crowd (and the band) needed so badly. Confused a little that this long-awaited moment came during a cover, I was utterly shocked when they ended their encore with another cover, "Act Together" by the Rolling Stones. Why did they seem genuinely happy here, hooting and hollering during these covers and apologetically bored during their own songs?

All in all they sounded amazing, I'll grant them that. And the sold-out Metro crowd seemed to be in agreement as we shuffled out the door. It was the extraneous elements of the performance that left me, personally, scratching my head. - B. Nanna