Band of Horses, Skating Polly House of Blues October 24, 2012
When this fall's highly-anticipated Railroad Revival Tour was scuttled a lot of hearts broke, but luckily one of the artists on that traveling bill, Band Of Horses, ended up booking a House Of Blues show instead.
The band's previous proposed Houston show, opening for Kings of Leon in September 2011, was scuttled due to KOL singer Caleb Followill's overindulgence. Finally Houston got a BOH bill, after years of waiting.
Last night's HOB gig was the band's first in town since they became a large touring act. Their last show in Houston was a June 2006 Walter's on Washington appearance.
The band rewarded us for waiting so long with a long, energetic set.
Teen-girl duo Skating Polly acted as supporter, reeling off quick Bikini Kill-style screeds in front the sold-out crowd. Kathleen Hanna-channeling Singer-bassist Kelli Mayo (around 13) and drummer Peyton Suitor (edging close to 17) weren't exactly congruous to the Horses brand of barn-burning folk-rock, but that was the fun part.
Reaction was mixed in the crowd, with some staring dumbfounded and agitated, and others (like myself) hearing great potential. I could see them being a big buzz act in a few years on line with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the late great Be Your Own Pet.
The crowd at the HOB was decidedly starved for the Horses set. I wasn't aware that so many women liked the band, assuming it was a sad bastard group for beards and pearl snaps, but the audience's gender ratio was almost evenly-split.
And can I also add they were extremely attentive and kind? I only saw one fight, which is rare for such a packed house. I only saw two beers can thrown at the stage for that matter, but that seemed to be out of love and not anger.
Opening with "Factory" from 2010's Infinite Arms, the bombast-heavy set would run close to two hours, touching on every album in the band's catalog, but not leaning on the brand-new Mirage Rock too terribly much. They did throw in the previously-unreleased title track though.
A cover of Neil Young And Crazy Horse's "Powderfinger" came rather early in the set, hiding in plain sight against the other BOH material.
Lead singer Ben Bridwell only mentioned their previously scheduled tour once, not going into it beyond saying it was "derailed." This show was announced within hours of that cancellation, but some BOH fans still didn't know about the HOB show.
Naturally, over half of the Cease to Begin album would end up being played, with "No One's Gonna Love You" turning the crowd into a cuddle-party, cameras flashing. As far as anthemic, twisted love song goes, it couldn't get much better.
The band's pre-encore "fake last song" -- "The Funeral" -- got a metallic revamp, guitar chimes and all. These are the kind of tracks that made them a festival act, bypassing smaller venues like HOB.
For the encore, they first cut us deep with "Evening Kitchen" with Bridwell and guitarist Tyler Ramsey -- sporting a decadent Jim Henson beard -- alone out front. The band then tried to attack the twin-bass of "Our Swords" but it fell apart a few seconds in.
They did close the night with a killer cover of Them Two's "Am I a Good Man" which let Bridwell flex his soul-belting muscles.
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Personal Bias: Cease to Begin and I were roommates in 2008.
The Crowd: Can you lift weights to Band Of Horses? Some of these dudes look like they do a lot. You can definitely mope to them, I know that much.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Man, a lot of people have broken up or made up to the Band of Horses."
Random Notebook Dump: The band sound-checked a version of Genesis' "That's All" on Wednesday afternoon. I was sad to not hear that in the set list later that night.