Here’s the thing: those of us that are willing to shamelessly drown in the depths of repetitive, predictable, and overtly romantic bro-rock indie music, tend to welcome almost all attempts at acoustic recordings. That’s why when Seattle group Band of Horses released their newest album Band of Horses: Acoustic At The Ryman the mushy hearts of BUST were totally down. In most other places, the album (released on February 11, 2014) was not as well-received, as the record fell short of expectations for a project rich with musical history.
Regardless, the group is on a North American tour, and they performed at The Town Hall in New York City on Friday night. Town Hall is actually rich with feminist history; it was founded in 1921 by a group of suffragists looking for an accessible education space. It was also the stage where American birth control activist and founder of the organizations that evolved into what is now known as Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was arrested for attempting to speak about contraception rights to a mixed-sex audience. HOW COOL IS THAT.
The atmosphere of the performance was pretty inviting. The show opened with lead singer Ben Bridwell softly singing “St. Augustine” from their first album Everything All The Time (2006). Song by song, other band members joined the stage introducing more strings and light drums, presenting audience faves like “Marry Song” and “Factory,” before finally filling the substantial theatre with powerful piano, and mood moving energy via a warmer acoustic version of “Ode To LRC” that was a total update from the original.
With the five band members seated in a line spreading across the length of a stage decorated with an array of stringed instruments, sandwiched between an open bottle of red wine and a grand piano, the audience was treated to an intimate evening of alternative-indie acoustic.
At times the show was unfortunately and painfully awkward, and unable to reach the level of intensity that a number of their songs deserve, in a theatre that literally demands a confident presence. It was almost like the audience was watching a group of good friends with glorious beards, in a semi-finished basement, tinkering around with acoustic versions of their most favorite songs, which isn't all that bad.
If you identify as an O.G. Band of Horses fan, one that is moved by sincere harmonies and not in need of captivating stage presence, their live show is without a doubt a must see. Hearing a sappy, romance-dripping hit like “No One’s Gonna Love You” stripped right down to the basics will likely melt even the most frozen of hearts.
Thanks to Band of Horses