Band of Horses | 10.13.10

The last time they played in St. Louis, it was as the opening act for Pearl Jam at the Scottrade Center. I have no doubt that they will one day be headlining venues of that magnitude.

 
 
 
The Pageant, St. Louis
 
Band of Horses have a sound that emits greatness. The last time they played in St. Louis, it was as the opening act for Pearl Jam at the Scottrade Center. I have no doubt that they will one day be headlining venues of that magnitude. Ben Bridwell leads his band with a clean, strong and unfaltering voice full of emotion and determination. Many of the songs were performed with three electric guitars that battled and weaved together in what seemed like an attempt to blow the roof off of The Pageant.
 
Bridwell was sporting a double-breasted flannel shirt and the entire band had on classy, badass boots. These guys have the look and the sound of a big land/big sky band. I could see them having a field day at Burning Man. The first song they played was “The First Song,” which is the first song on their first album. It’s the small, clever things like this decision that make the fans smile and spatter their epic sound with quirky fun.
 
They followed up with “Laredo,” “The Great Salt Lake,” and “NW apt.” Band of Horses have a good eye for simplistic beauty, and they incorporate that talent into their music. These songs that are named after locations are wrapped up in the nostalgia and deeply rooted feelings that the band probably associates with those places. Throughout the show, the theme of simple beauty was ever present in photographs displayed as a slide show behind the band. Inserted in the sleeves of their albums are similar pictures that Band of Horses clearly want the listener to peruse while basking in the sound. The pictures (flowers, desert, moon, etc.) and the music feel brutally honest and genuinely whole-hearted. At one point, the slide show included pictures of the band joined in camaraderie while on the road. Bridwell had a bit of scruff on his face during the show, but it was nice to be reminded through the photos that he can grow one helluva beard.
 
Well into the set they played “Older,” from their new album, Infinite Arms. The song was written and performed with such devastating feeling and heart that it left the entire crowd with a glow like they’d had a 45 minute full-body massage. This song surprised me as one of my favorite moments of the night. Near the end of the set they pulled out their money makers and played “No One’s Gonna Love You,” followed by their two biggest hits from their first album, Everything All the Time: “The Funeral” and “Wicked Gil.”
Funerals are not taken lightly, and in recent years both The Arcade Fire and Band of Horses have honed epic strength while branding their music with this heavy word. I have never been to a funeral where strong emotions weren’t present, and this song, especially belted out live, is bone-chilling.
 
Before exiting the stage, they played a fun cover of the Eagles’ “Showdown.” I’m not sure what the band did backstage before they came back out for the encore, but as they strolled back out in front of the crowd, they burst into “Weed Party.” By this time, Band of Horses had played every song any fan could have had on their ‘top three oh-my-god-I-hope-they-play-this-song list.’ Completely satisfied with the range of songs I had heard, I didn’t even think to ask myself if they were going to play “Is There a Ghost?” Well, they did, and they nailed it, and then the jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring show was over. | Alex Schreiber
             

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