Band of Horses
Echo Beach in Toronto, ON
August 15, 2012
Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle
My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses come together for a night of contrast.
Band of Horses
Sporting a sea of denim and a scattered cowboy hat, Band of Horses made their recent Echo Beach appearance in a theme of slow southern comfort – a theme that dominated their short set supporting My Morning Jacket.
Though the act's sound isn't outright country or bluegrass or any other definitively southern genre, it certainly shows obvious folk influences blended through the proper rock requisites. Guitar-driven and earthy, their discography is heavy on slow-paced, easy tracks mingled with quick pieces that are mostly only considered quick when weighed against their own catalogue. Their stage show was true to that vibe, and meandered like a slow river through their set-list without much activity to speak of. On that large stage with no excuse to stand still, the artists managed to grow some moss while they performed.
Luckily, lead Ben Bridwell was all jokes and games with the crowd, getting sillier and looser in the feet as the night went on. In fact, he spent much of his time picking up his band's slack, up to a pinnacle during the set's finale “Am I A Good Man?” that had him showboating with bluesy style, smoking a cigarette and making appeals to some unnamed woman (his act begged visions of some femme-fatale that he just couldn't shake).
Don't be fooled into thinking it was an unfeeling performance from the band, though. The musical renditions themselves were spot-on, and Band of Horses seemed genuinely thrilled to play for the crowd (and the crowd, in turn, was plenty thrilled to see them play). There was no shortage of broad inside smiles among the artists as they played work from the breadth of their discogrophy, bringing out new tracks as well as old fan favourites like “No One's Gonna Love You” and a powerful showing of “The Funeral”. In an appearance that was less boring than it was properly paced for their sound, Band of Horses put on a show best heard under a setting summer sky with a beer in your hand, and that's just what Echo Beach was offering the audience that evening.
My Morning Jacket
As nighttime settled, My Morning Jacket took their turn on stage for a set that was contrasting in no small way to the act they followed.
My Morning Jacket's sound is easy, organic, and a proper pairing with work from Band Of Horses, but unlike the laid-back band before them, their stage show itself was raging. Fans in the audience that night will probably have trouble just sitting back and listening to the band's recorded work from now on, now that they know the kind of fire that accompanies the tracks on-stage. “Off The Record” absolutely glowed on the set-list - fun but uncompromising and wrapping up in a rolling instrumental finale that very well could have been the set's final, epic piece. Instead, the track sat near the beginning of a performance that was all energy. “Master Plan” was played as an exercise in physical performance, climaxing in what could best be described as a duel between lead Jim James and Patrick Hallahan on drums, and Kathleen Edwards even found her way to the stage to lend bright vocals to the gentle but strong “Golden.” The show was overripe with highlights, each piece seeming to become more and more alive through the whopping nineteen song set-list.
Of course, the strong differences between the two bands' sets certainly helped distinguish just how well the group takes the stage. While the newfound darkness, epic lighting, and rabid fog machines threw the vibe of the evening in a different direction, My Morning Jacket themselves performed like 70's rock stars and their fun, unobtrusive songs saw light that night at monumental strength.