The night of Sept. 18, 2006, Band of Horses packed up their gear after finishing a Monday night show at Headliners in Columbia’s Vista. Front man and Columbia native Ben Bridwell (located center in above photo) probably didn’t know the club he just played would close its doors for good in 2009, barring his possessing psychic powers that he hasn’t made the public aware of (Tell us now, Ben – what does the future hold?!). By the same token, he probably didn’t know it would be another six-and-a-half years before his group would return to play in his hometown.
Tonight, the audience at the Township Auditorium will welcome Band of Horses back with open arms and open ears for a night of music steeped in southern roots.
Formed in Seattle in 2004, the band relocated their home base to nearby Charleston, S.C., before the release of 2007’s Cease to Begin, which was their first release to crack the Billboard U.S. album chart’s top 40 (peaking at number 37). Horses’ popularity has been on the rise ever since, with Infinite Arms (2010) garnering their best performance on the charts (peaking at number seven) and major summer music festival dates becoming a regular part of their tours.
Much of the band’s success can be attributed to Bridwell’s voice, as its constant treble cuts through the mix with a pristine, often bell-like quality. Layered atop the quintet’s no frills indie-rock instrumentation, his vocals steer the mood and dynamic of each track. Whether it’s through the grit and aggression on the verses of “Ode to LRC,” the inquisitive, almost panicked use of his upper register on “Is There A Ghost” or the placidity of “Infinite Arms,” Bridwell’s versatility shines through as the band’s focal point.
Joining Horses on tonight’s bill are Columbia rockers Josh Roberts and the Hinges and Athens, Ga., alt-country group Futurebirds. Whatever guitar solos the rest of the show might be lacking, Josh Roberts will surely make up for, as he’s easily one of the best improv rock guitarists in the Southeast (NOTE: all audience members should come prepared to have their faces melted, only hoping and praying that maybe Ben Bridwell’s soothing voice can work as an aural aloe to heal their rock-induced burns). Futurebirds make their home somewhere in between the Hinges’ and Horses’ places on the rock spectrum, melding belted harmonies and a wall of reverb guitar sounds with a Southern rock swagger to create a mystique that perfectly treads a thin line between beauty and dysfunction.
Band of Horses / Futurebirds / Josh Roberts and the Hinges
Friday, May 3 at the Township Auditorium (1703 Taylor St., Columbia, S.C.)
$35 floor (no seating); $30 reserved balcony
Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m.