Show Review: Band of Horses @ The Orpheum 9.20.16
by David McDevitt (International Affairs/Economics), published October 10th 2016
I was eight years old when my dad took me to an REO Speedwagon concert, somewhere in the 2004. To him, songs like “Roll With the Changes” were anthems from his high school days that he was gladly reliving as a full grown adult. When Ben Bridwell shouted, “To know me as hardly golden – Is to know me all wrong, they were”, I bet somebody at the Orpheum that night to see Band of Horses felt at least part of what my dad felt. The crowd at the Orpheum lacked your typical early 20s naivety and energy. In fact, the last time I saw this many kids with parents at a show was in 2008 when we got my friends parents to take us to Fall Out Boy when I was 13. This show was not for the kids though, in an odd fashion I noticed a handful of parents taking their kids to see the band who wrote the song that was played at their wedding, right when Everything All The Time, the band’s debut album, was released.
The Orpheum is an odd venue. It is by no means comparable to Agganis or any of the vast arenas where shows are designed to be seen and heard from 100 yards away. Simultaneously, it lacks the youth and chaos that clubs such as The Sinclair and Paradise boast. One does not need to brave the constant shoulder to shoulder bumping to see bounce to their favorite band who is a grand total of 10 yards from the tip of your finger. It creates a safer space for a family to reach an indie rock show, without the insanity and detachment of an arena set.
The catalog of Band of Horses lends itself nicely to the environment. Five albums in as of 2016, and they have remained committed to a southern-rock and folk sound that propelled Ben Bridwell and company into the spotlight in the first place. After an attempt to reinvent their sound went awry (referring to the swept under the rug 2012 LP Miracle Rock), Band of Horses took a corrective step towards their original form with this year’s album Why Are You OK. With that step came a serene blending in their live set that a band with a 10 year career rarely gets to boast. Singles from 2016, such as “Casual Party”, were played side by side with 2006’s “The Great Salt Lake, and all was well with the world.
It is easy to forget how commercially successful Band of Horses has been over the past decade, at least until they filled the theater on a Tuesday night. Potentially the most commercially successful group to come out of Sub Pop Records, including a Grammy nomination on their resume, Band of Horses did well by their theater set, giving a recreation of a band breaking into relevance through an endless chain of small, cramped club gigs, but in the comfort of someplace that provides individualized cushioned seats and more than one bathroom.