Review: Band of Horses/Midlake @ Verizon Center

11 Apr

We have another great review from Tommy Garcia today. And, again, sit tight because we have a big project in the works that will not disappoint you.

By Tommy Garcia

Band of Horses and Midlake played to a capacity crowd at the Verizon Center in Grand Prairie Thursday night. Both bands expanded their signature sounds to project to a massive venue that surely would have dwarfed lesser acts.

The show opened with North Carolina based singer songwriter Tyler Ramsey. Ramsey shuffled between several open-tuned acoustic guitars throughout his concise six-song set. Carrying the banner for this generation’s obsession with and emulation of Neil Young, Ramsey gently finger picked through melancholy, laconic tunes, often times recalling a stripped down version of Fleet Foxes. Ramsey’s smooth vocals and reflective folk musings provided a nice back drop as the audience slowly streamed in.

Denton’s own Midlake peeked their heads out from Panhandle House Studios, where the band is hard at work crafting their next album, to support their friends Band of Horses. The band opened their set with “Winter Dies”, from last year’s polarizing release The Courage of Others. The band stuck to songs from Courage and their break-out album, 2006’s The Trials of Van Occupanther. As the band kicked in to the driving “Roscoe”, lead singer Tim Smith joked, “This is the song that made us rich and famous.”

With seven musicians on stage playing keyboard, flute, guitar, bass and drums, Midlake projected a massive, majestic sound that lifted and projected throughout the auditorium. The sound stood at odds with the production and presentation of the band on its records, where the arrangements and mood of the songs are often plaintive, sparse and possess a quiet beauty.

Drummer McKenzie Smith pounded on his kick drum and crash cymbal with mallets and led the band into a jam session that gradually transitioned into one of Van Occupanther’s stand-out tracks, “Young Bride,” recalling such ’70s progressive rock acts as King Crimson and Jethro Tull.

As the band proceeded into Courage’s lead-off single, “The Acts of Man”, Smith quipped, “This is the song that didn’t make us rich and famous.” Since the band didn’t offer any new material in their set, it will be interesting to see which direction the band will seek on their upcoming studio release.

Headliners Band of Horses powered through an emotive and powerful set of songs from their three studio albums. The band primarily focused on songs from last year’s Fat Possum release, Infinite Arms. That album elevated the band from indie favorite to full-fledged rock powerhouse, just below similarly styled indie superstars such as Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins.

The band rose from the ashes of Seattle band Carissa’s Weird, who had a tremendous following in the Pacific Northwest. Though they put put out several well-received albums, one could not have imagined that the band members of that outfit would ever headline large arenas on a full-scale US tour.

Band of Horse’s set highlights included loud, passionate takes on “Laredo”, “Blue Beard” and “On My Way Back Home”. Their performance mixed jangly, reverb-laden folk tunes with big rock drums and lifting harmonies. The band’s sound was also nicely accompanied by a driving organ that would have made Garth Hudson of The Band proud.

Classic rock has regained its voice.

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