Kings of Leon may have cancelled its US tour, including a date at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Friday, but anyone who planned on heading up to see opening act Band of Horses, instead got a much more intimate full set from the Charleston-based band at The Fillmore. The band’s guitarist, Asheville’s Tyler Ramsey, opened the show with a brief folk set, his voice and plucky acoustic guitar nicely cutting through the buzz of chit chat and anticipation.
Band of Horses hit the stage promptly at 9:59. It opened with the slow waltz of “For Annabelle” before breaking into the big driving beat of “NW Apt.” (just like on its latest album “Infinite Arms”). “The Great Salt Lake” and “Is There a Ghost” followed. Columbia native Ryan Monroe’s keys hummed beneath the guitar picking and psychedelic effects. Frontman and founder Ben Bridwell’s reverb-drenched vocals floated over songs (like those mentioned above) that were at once haunting, anthemic, and uplifting.
The whole vibe was one of joy. Bridwell noted that the group had family and friends in attendance. A few of their parents were watching from the second level. All parents seem to think their kid’s art is genius, but I can only imagine what a kick it is to see a couple thousand people completely rapt by your child’s creation.
Bridwell, another SC native, dubbed the thrown together, last minute tour, which included Wednesday in Ft. Lauderdale and shows in Philly and NYC this coming week, as "The Weirdest Tour Ever Tour." Before playing a new old-style Southern rock tune that he said probably won't make the next record, he noted: "One good thing that did come out of this is we'll probably be making that record a lot sooner."
Considering the circumstances it was hard not to think about how different the original show would've been. Bridwell suggested the outdoor show might've been cancelled because of Friday's torrential rains and flooding. I've seen Kings of Leon several times and some of those shows were really good, but I never felt the same warmth as I did from the BoH show. Musically while KoL's Southern rock has morphed into U2-influenced arena rock in recent years (not exactly a bad thing though I sometimes miss the frantic incomprehensible lyrics of "Aha Shake Heartbreak"), BoH still hovers in that distinctively Southern atmosphere down to the bare trees of its backdrop. It certainly has its own sound where descriptions like psychedelic, atmospheric and hypnotic come to mind.
The KoL dates certainly would've put BoH in front of larger crowds, giving it the chance to convert new fans. Its a shame it didn't work out. But the surprise headlining date seemed like a treat for both the band and its fans.