addendum: Band of Horses live
So last night I saw Band of Horses perform (my first live show in a while; remind me to talk about M. Ward and Parts & Labor sometime soon), mostly because a friend of mine wanted to see them and I was desperate to clear my brain from my soul-killing temp job (different blog, different entry). About bland openers Mt. Egypt and The Can't Sees, the less said the better.
After the between-set pause, suddenly the speakers stopped playing between-set filler (in this case, some kind of heinously bland funk-jam filler) and, at obscene value, started blasting "The Break-Up," one of the awesomely funny skits from T.I.'s new album ("Bitch, your hair look like a dirty tennis ball!"). The skit had nothing to do with anything; they obviously thought it was just funny. Well, so do I. The crowd was confused, not to mention in pain from the jacked-up volume, but I was pleased: if me and Band of Horses have T.I. in common, maybe we can get along after all.
They emerged to the strains of "What You Know," sat down, and got to it. Upbeat, rock-oriented songs ("Weed Party," "The Great Salt Lake") fared better than slower stuff, clarifying for me what I should cut from my iPod (even more so because live, Band of Horses don't deviate at all from the recordings, boosting the drums a token bit but otherwise leaving everything intact). Live presence is solid; lead singer Ben Bridwell has the understated grinning Southern charm thing down (though Kalefa Sanneh's observation about the Bowery Ballroom set that "No doubt some fans were wondering why he seemed so cheerful, and whether he had any more" seems an equal contributing factor), perfectly willing to actually listen to what the crowd says and talk back. The one new song they played as a full band was a massive leap forward; it had more than 3 chord changes, it moved more interestingly, etc. Between geniality and the potential of the new song, I'm willing to cut these guys some slack. For now.