Opening bands have a fight on their hands every night. There’s always that nervous anticipation from the crowd. People pissing themselves in the parking lot. Long lines for beers. Couples zigzagging the venue looking for their seats. Amidst the obstacles of an early set time, the opening slot is all about energy. It’s more than a warm up. It’s the chance for a band to step on stage and win hearts. And as any Mets fan would do, I root for the opener…the quintessential underdog.
Washington’s Band of Horses have crisscrossed the country the last few years on the strength of three fantastic records. I’ve watched them wow crowds rowdy to see Modest Mouse and most recently as the opener for My Morning Jacket in Philly. As the trustafarians swayed and screamed for Jim James, something improbable happened. Band of Horses did what they do, lacing Crosby, Stills and Nash-like harmonies over careful rockers, and one by one, the MMJ fans dialed in. They cocked half-cocked heads to the sky and soaked up the power of one of the greatest bands in America.
This Tuesday Band of Horses will release Mirage Rock, their forth studio record following 2010’s Infinite Arms. Beach Boys doo-wop opens “Knock Knock”, the albums first track, and from there it rattles and hums through eleven gorgeous tracks. The band sounds like they’ve spent some time in the kitchen. The Band, U2, Fleet Foxes…it’s a virtual melting pot of angles. Band of Horses have also studied their surroundings, proving their ear for size as well as sound. Mirage Rock is written for clubs and stadiums providing as much punch as there is whisper. It’s the sound of a band taking a collective breath. They don’t have to wear out their amps to make you listen. They simply take the stage first, and the rest takes care of itself.