REVIEW: Band of Horses – September 26th 2006 – Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO

Scene: While Band of Horses has been on the rise they haven’t quite attracted the frat crew that Wolf Parade has recently. The diverse crowd ranged from the young preppy kids that just got to school at CU and don’t yet have fake IDs good enough to get into the over 21 area at the Fox to the guy in his late 40’s that was standing in front of me for most of the evening. Overall it was really a great crowd for Boulder. The room was probably at least 80% full, which basically means there were enough people to fill the room but it wasn’t uncomfortably crowded and you could easily get around to go to the bar or the bathroom. Overall a great vibe in the Fox last night.

From the drunk and disorderly but highly amusing department, the guy that was standing next to us for the night does deserve special recognition. He was in his mid 30’s and I am not joking when I say he knew EVERY SINGLE WORD of every song that Band of Horses played. To make matters even more hilarious he sang them all either a half second early or late. As my friend Jay said “there is really no other way to describe this guy other than a skinny Chris Farley.” He was right on. The guy was completely amped the whole show and seemed like he was having an interactive experience with the band. “This is where they really give it to us!” and “Come on, hit us with the heavy shit,” weren’t uncommon to hear from him throughout the night. While he did piss off more than his fair share of people there were several of us who were highly amused.

Opener: Chad Vangaalen. Vangaalen is also signed to Sub-Pop where he recently released his second album for the indie giant. Vangaalen showed two faces during his 40 minute set at the Fox. The first 20 minutes or so he seemed to be the indie reincarnate of Neil Young. Playing guitar, harmonica, kick drum and high-hat on his own he created a sparse sound that the crowd slowly got into.

For the second half of his set he brought out a drummer and turned up the energy. He left the sparse acoustic sound of the first 20 minutes behind and brought on the noise. Let’s just say that I was more of a fan of the sparse acoustic sound.

At the end of the set Vangaalen brought out a host of musicians to the stage. Members of the first band, Simon Dawes, Band of Horses, and two little children helped him out on the closing jam. Vocal and harmonica duties were supplied by the little boys and the result was more than a little creepy. Kind of like being trapped in train car at night, and who wants to be trapped in a train car at night.

Vangaalen is a talent and one to watch for in the future. If he can hone in on a sound that he is comfortable with, I think his star will continue to rise. His most recent release Skelliconnection showcases both of the sounds he brought to the Fox last night.

Band of Horses: Last time I saw these guys was March of this year and the crowd was about 50 strong. Wow how things have changed. A big push by Sub Pop on their debut album Everything All The Time, coupled with good songwriting and catchy hooks have propelled Band of Horses straight up. It was great to see so many people catching on to this young band.

As soon as the band stepped on the stage I realized again why the Fox is such a great venue. The sound is just fantastic. The raw power of the songs came through with conviction and gave me a totally different impression of the band this time around.

A scragly Ben Bridwell stood front and center with fellow ex-Carissa’s Wierd member, and wanna be rockstar, Matt Brooke on Guitar to his right, but it was the drummer who almost demanded the spotlight. Wild, flailing hair and short dark beard gave him a Viking like appearance and the force with which he hammered the drums only cemented the image.

The 70 minute set was dominated by tracks from Everything All The Time, but the band did have time to squeeze in a couple of new songs and a two covers including the show closing version of ELO’s “Showdown.” The new tracks don’t stray too much from the formula that seems to be working for them and they fit right in beside the ragged, but dreamlike, soundscapes of songs like “Great Salt Lake” and “Funeral.”

The bands only noticeable mis-step during the set came at the end of the first verse of “Monsters” when Bridwell had to ask the sound man to turn down the delay in his monitor as it was distracting him. He stepped right back up to the plate and sang the rest of the song flawlessly, a credit to him as a musician and a performer.

As we left Lindsay remarked that while she really enjoyed the show, the similarity of the sound wore on her as the show went on. I would have to agree, it is good solid rock music and I can’t blame them for sticking to what works, but sometimes I need a bit more variation in a show. Afterall, the Samples made a career out of catchy songs and reverb drenched vocals and look where they are today. I can only hope that Band of Horses can broaden their horizons in the next few years.

Energy: B
Sound: A-
Muscianship: B-
Stage Presence: B
Set/Light Show: B

Overall: B

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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!