It was so dusky and cool before the Band of Horses show, Central Park was something like the moon. A few steps toward the stage, and the weightlessness was there too – your grass-covered shoes plodding around picnic blankets in the darkness, guided only by the giggles and shrieks of the cross-legged crowd. Just when the excitement on the lawn had become part of the night itself, like the hum of cicadas under the breeze, the stage came to life and began to glow.
The lively show that would follow began with the Austin, Texas four-piece, White Denim, and the instant pull of their Southern garage rock sound. They had the tough task of keeping the outdoor crowd at bay before the much-loved headlining act, but that was no problem for the seasoned band, who regularly burst into jammy segments that kept everyone on their toes. The audience let out big cheers between songs, and one after another, White Denim dished out an impressive opening set.
It was a traditional piano intro that filled the night air before Band of Horses took the stage, and for a good moment, the twinkling notes had much of the park in silent suspense. Then the five musicians walked on, quickly getting settled as the audience squealed. “New York City, how ya damn doin’?” asked frontman Ben Bridwell, his face bright with excitement. Then, in a simple sentence that flowed like a river, he explained their agenda. “Gonna start kinda mellow, work into a groove, and feel it.”
Band of Horses did just that, and the good vibes were all-encompassing; their fans singing shoulder-to-shoulder under the stars. The Seattle alt-rockers opened with “Monsters,” “The First Song,” and “Casual Party,” then bounced from favorite to favorite, brewing an especially warm sound on hits like “Solemn Oath,” “No One’s Gonna Love You,” and “The General Specific.” All the while, the guys were in wild motion, maintaining muscular focus to keep their sound right in synch – whether the moment was mild, or exploding like a star.
Before parting, Band of Horses brought out an impressive cover of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “Powderfinger,” then sent us home in the utter bliss of “Is There A Ghost” and “The Funeral.” Ben’s unmistakable vocals drifted through the trees, and in somewhat angelic fashion, his hair seemed to float up around his head like a halo. By the way their fans responded to the show, the image wasn’t too far off.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley