SXSW 2010: Band of Horses
This year I unintentionally stumbled upon the two sides of Band of Horses – and now I don’t know which I like better.
It started at Stubb’s on Thursday night. I got there early and posted up on the rail to hear some good music, but as a long time fan was specifically there to see Band of Horses. Judging by the way the crowd squeezed in I wasn’t the only one. And as the crowd got bigger and bigger I wondered how they would handle it, both in style and energy. When they finally came on, with a confident gleam in their eyes, all my questions were answered. They got big. Their sound got big. Their energy got big. They filled the space without a problem. The set was fantastic and contained a nice mix of old songs, something I wish more bands did during these festivities. It had some new songs – which sound great, different and somehow the same. It had the energy of a band on the upper swing of momentum and they so obviously love what they’re doing that it was impossible not to smile and dance with them. So I did. And as the final notes of the set rang out I left with that smile still on my face and the knowledge that it was one of my favorite sets… or so I thought.
By the whims of the SXSW fates, which sometimes have a mind of their own, I ended up at Central Presbyterian Church on Friday night – just in time for the Band of Horses set. Having already seen them this was purely unintentional; but after the first song was played, I realized the juxtaposition of the two sets might be my favorite experience of this SXSW. Where at Stubb’s their sound rang out, bowling you over; at the CBC show they brought you in, whispering to you like a friend telling a secret. The songs – even the fast ones – were at their essence quiet, contemplative, like a hymnal somehow, and very apropos for the inside of a church. The match of this band with this venue felt like they were made for each other. By the end of the set the crowd had it’s hands raised in praise.
Loud and boisterous – quiet and contemplative: both sides done with such purity and joy that it is virtually impossible to say which is better. But both sides also make up the whole of Band of Horses, so maybe you don’t have to choose in the end.