Wednesday, March 17, 2010
In my book, there is really something to be said about artists who were in a band for a long time, and had maybe mediocre success, but at some point, and for any number of reasons, they create a new band with a more focused and polished sound than their original band. Case in point is Band of Horses, fronted by Ben Bridwell, who was formerly in a band called Carissa's Wierd in the 90s and 00s. Do you remember listening to them in the mid-to-late 90s? Probably not, because they never really got much mainstream attention. However, the years Bridwell spent in that band clearly taught him a lot about what he wanted to sound like and the things he needed to be doing to become successful. I think the folks in bands that seemingly aren't going anywhere reach a certain breaking point, and only a select few recognize they don't have that many chances left to make it AND also have the ability to create a "first" album under a new name that simply blows everyone away (see Vernon, Justin).
For a band with only two albums under their belt, Band of Horses is simply one of the best live bands around. As I noted in an earlier post, Band of Horses played the Fox Theatre 3 1/2 years ago, just around the time I moved to Boulder, in support of their only album then, Everything All the Time. For monetary reasons, I couldn't go, and I've regretted that decision since the show was announced. Quite ironically, Bridwell asked the sold out house at the Fox Theatre on Monday night how many of them had been at that show, and an extremely sparse response of a couple of yells and some raised hands were returned. That is to say, Band of Horses has gained some serious notoriety since 2006, clearly evidenced by the two sold out Denver area shows this week.
The Boulder show found BoH playing quite a few songs from their new record, Infinite Arms (May 18, on Brown/Fat Possum/Columbia) for which the album art has just recently been released. I have to say I'm quite excited to hear it, as the songs were very well received and fit very nicely with the band's current set list. (pic from the show here) For 90 minutes the band enthralled the packed house with energetic performances of a good portion of their catalog. It may be their most well-known song, and the main one that the half-assed fans were there to see, but if you haven't already, you need to add "hearing Band of Horses play 'The Funeral' live" to your bucket list. Yes, it's as good as you might imagine.
Returning to my original thought, I simply have a really strong appreciation for artists who construct such a clear and cohesive vision for their work that you never say "I wish they had done...." It doesn't really matter if someone finds that artistic place at 21 or 35, although I think the more time that goes into it, the better the product will be over the long term. Band of Horses are steadily producing a body of work that is going to keep them quite popular for a long time, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to see them in a small theater setting like the Fox, as their time in this type of intimate venue may be limited. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to get in to see them at SXSW this year, unless you are a major VIP, but you should take the opportunity to see them live when you have the chance.