The lights on the ceiling of the Barrymore twinkled like stars over the flannel-decked crowd Saturday night. Spirits were warm as anxious showgoers waited to immerse themselves in authentic rock and roll, something Band of Horses would not fail to provide in this sold-out show.
The relaxed vibe was cut short when Band of Horses entered the stage a little after 9 p.m. The members were drenched with aquamarine light as Ben Bridwell, the lead singer of the band, charmed the cheering crowd with his southern twang.
After a short greeting, the band burst straight into “Knock Knock,” one of album Mirage Rock’s biggest hits. The pure talent of the band was revealed straight away. Bridwell’s voice sounded even better live and the three guitars blended expertly into heavenly layers. The crowd was transfixed by the divine sound: Even the old timers sitting in the back were standing and exclaiming their love for the band.
The momentum of the music and crowd continued to accumulate into their second song, “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands.” Bridwell sang passionately, swaying stiffly back and forth as the crowd yelped and whistled, encouraging the howling lyrics and guitar. The ending of the song was nothing short of epic as the three guitars came together in a melody that left the entire theater vibrating. As the guitar’s sound continued to reverberate throughout the theater, the crowd was teeming with a tension that could only be broken by the guitars continuing back into their sinuous melody.
The band had chemistry throughout the show, fueling the crowd’s enthusiasm even more. During instrumental breaks, the band members would join in the middle of the stage as if to celebrate their own musical genius.
As the band progressed onto “The Great Salt Lake,” a song from their first album Everything All The Time, the showgoers continued to be hypnotized by the music. Heads swayed to and fro during the haunting verse and rebounded to head banging in the upbeat chorus. Bridwell often showcased his inner goofiness throughout the show. During “The Great Salt Lake,” he diverged from the main melody into a quirky interlude before continuing back into a grandiose final chorus.
The spotlight diverted from Bridwell shortly and was cast on Bill Reynolds, another guitarist, during an instrumental prelude. Reynolds planted his feet firmly apart as if to cement himself to the ground as he ripped an insane rift, creating a unearthly mechanical effect. Yet Reynold’s moment in the limelight was over as soon as Bridwell started to play. Bridwell bounced around the stage as his hands seemingly effortlessly flicked across the strings of his guitar. The crowd was paralyzed, basking in Bridwell’s mastery.
After “Magic Man,” a stage hand approached Reynolds with a birthday cake as Bridwell announced it was his birthday. Bridwell starting singing “Happy Birthday” and the crowd followed suit, filling the theater with jovial voices. Band of Horses was able to make the crowd feel like a family, united by the mutual love of bona fide rock and roll.
After Reynolds attempted to blow out all the flaming candles, the band continued into Cease to Begin’s “No Ones Gonna Love You.” Bridwell’s comic attitude revealed itself again as he turned and serenaded Reynolds as he sang, “No one’s gonna love you more than I do,” and pointed to him while singing, “Anything to make you smile.” The crowd laughed, and how couldn’t they? Bridwell was brimming with charm and humility.
After the crowd belted out the lyrics to Cease to Begin’s “General Specific,” the mood shifted as the formerly colorful stage faded into darkness and a solo spotlight casted down upon Bridwell. The crowd was dead silent and utterly captivated. Nothing could be heard other than Bridwell’s voice as he crooned Band of Horses’ top hit “The Funeral.” The warm electric guitar accompanied Bridwell’s echoey oohs creating a sound that could only be described as angelic. When the beat dropped, the crowd was jubilant, yelling and screaming as if they have been waiting for this one moment since they purchased their tickets. Fans took their phones out frantically, trying to record the rock glory unfolding in front of them as security scrambled to stop them.
As the arousal of the crowd grew and the music steadily built, the lights on the side walls started to fade in and out to the music, creating a completely ethereal effect. The crowd wailed and cried as the show came to this groundbreaking climax.
When the song came to its inevitable end, the audience was completely awed at what they had just witnessed. Bridwell thanked the crowd and promised to come back soon. Until then, Madison will undoubtedly be waiting excitedly to witness the unparalleled musical prowess of Band of Horses once again.