Lord Huron doesn’t have four but five sold out shows at the Teragram Ballroom this month and I got the chance to see their first one on Wednesday night. I realized I hadn’t seen this beloved LA band for some time (how long ago was the last time I saw them?), and their live performance has now grown to some rock arena dimension. A few years ago, they were still polishing their mysterious and elegant folk aura with delicate arrangements and exotic instrumentation, but the new songs, that I hadn’t really listened to much and certainly never experienced live, have widened the range of a band whose vision has always been looking at distant horizons.
Before Lord Huron, LA Takedown, an experimental grand ensemble, played a few instrumentals on the peaceful side, with jazz-y guitar solos half way between Joe Satriani and Carlos Santana, and a real explosive but cinematic dimension. they could go very technical while staying very inventive and entertaining.
Since I saw them, Lord Huron released a second album ‘Strange Trails’, a follow-up of their 2012 ‘Lonesome Dreams’, and there was a bit of both albums last night, plus more, old songs and what seemed to be new tunes (‘Secret of Life’, ‘Wait By The River’, ‘Emerald Star’, ‘ ‘Vide Noir’, ‘Lost in Time’…) definitively showing that Lord Huron is a band with a full body of work, haunted by rivers, woods, or even hurricanes, which always sound like an invitation to travel through more wilderness. Lord Huron’s songs are earthy, sandy, woody and even country at times, displaying infectious tempos which equally borrow from western and far more exotic rhythms, a sort of cosmic combination building a new folklore which doesn’t seem to belong to anywhere in particular.
Most of the songs encapsulate reverie and poetry but they are also performed like real rock songs, and if Lord Huron is certainly not the Foo Fighters, frontman Ben Schneider and his four musicians treated us with loud and layered guitars, and a range of other instruments, keys, slide guitar, harmonica, mixed with plenty of sweaty moves on stage. If Schneider came with a man bun on stage, he soon abandoned it for a more disheveled style, but there was something very elegant about him till the end. The suit, the fancy retro shirt are part of the glossy look he probably intends to give to his band, a sort of ‘out of time’ and ‘out of genres’ noble hero, shouting love and heartbreak on every mountaintop and behind every tree of a deep forest.
‘Back in LA,… I don’t know if you know this, but we live here,’ said Ben Schneider to the crowd. ‘It has been so long…. It sure feels good, it’s a hell of a city’, he added. ‘I have been here for 11 years, I came here not knowing I would stay so long… but then I sat on a barstool…and now here we are.’
The Michigan-born Schneider was sharing with us how comfortable he was feeling in his adoptive city, when he added half joking, ‘May be it’s time to go!’ just to echo the theme of many of his songs. ‘Noooooooooooo’, shouted the crowd, which he reassured by confirming his 5 nights at the Teragram Ballroom.
After a rock out entrance with The World Ender’ which got some ‘fuck yeahs!’ and yahoo!’ from the audience, there were more quieter meandering arrangements, going through many dusty trails, and then the warm familiarity of ‘Ends of the Earth’, its tropical drums and almost Africanized guitars while Schneider’s vocals always seem to habit the most uplifting journeys through space and time.
The concert was made of many moments, blasting rocking parts, charming interludes finding their place between folk prayers and doo-wop nostalgia (‘Wait by the River’ or ‘The Night We Met’), and slow sunrises slowing waking up guitars and drums before blossoming into a bombast, such as ‘The Birds Are Singing at Night’ which sounded like a busy forest in the middle of the California rain. You could tell the room was filled with true fans who were recognizing the songs at the first notes… and as the set was progressing the most famous tunes showed up, the clap-along ‘Time to Run’, the foot-tapping-till-it–hurts ‘The Stranger’, who made one of the guys behind me hit the stage with his hands, elbows then head in sign of appreciation. These are songs truly carved in LA’s DNA and the band stretched them into new lengths with more guitars and booming drumming finales.
After an encore and a peaceful ‘Lost in Time’ with lap and serene guitars carrying Schneider’s howl, the whipped jogtrot of ‘La Belle Fleur Sauvage’ made everyone around me profoundly happy and bouncy, so that it was just too infectious to not participate, and closing with the chorus of ‘Fool for Love’ was not an easy thing, it’s probably one of their best hooks and the crowd didn’t want the song to end…
I remember seeing Lord Huron for the first time in 2010, and they haven’t lost anything of their inventive rhythms, tasty drums-percussion and dreamy dimension. Lord Huron kicked these 5 nights with a magic sonic fusion that exalted glory and greatness, while being acclaimed like heroes… it may be the last time I see them in such an intimate venue.
The World Ender
Meet me in the Woods
Dead Man’s Hand
Hurricane (Johnnie’s Theme)
Secret of life
Ends of the Earth
Wait by the River
The Birds Are Singing at Night
Time to Run
The Night We Met
Lost in time
La Belle Fleur Sauvage
Fool for Love
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – August 1975 (Volume 7, Number 3)
If I did fifty shows I’d get the money from one
a growling, prowling slap pump and just another all American
a 28 song full, full blown reggae rasta brilliance
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1975 (Volume 7, Number 2)
the boundary breaking shock rocker of the decade
Harry seems to have it sewn up
a superb songwriter who can fill an album with excellent country mainstreamers
lovely tribute to her single mom
a classical guitarist and composer and has released more than 30 solo albums
“The song is about a mental institution”
Freakout Records Announce The 10th Annual Freakout Festival Taking Place on November 10-13 in Ballard (Seattle, WA)
a diverse arrangement of voices and sounds