The indie-rock and South Carolina based alt-country Band of Horses made their second Colorado stop – in as many days – on March 16 at the Ogden Theatre. It’s the beginning of a tour that began the night before in Boulder and will take them from Colorado to Austin for SXSW, just before the band leaves the country for nearly a month.
Two stops in Colorado! At the beginning of their tour! It was enough to make any fan wonder, “How did we get so lucky?”
Since forming in 2004 B.O.H. has produced two not-so-similar albums. Their 2006 first album – “Everything All The Time” – was addictive front to back. It was filled with cryptic lyrics, simple yet unforgettable reverb-laden guitar melodies, and lead singer Ben Bridwell’s idiosyncratic delivery.
That album was followed closely by their sophomore effort “Cease to Begin” in 2007, which most people found easily palatable with its more straightforward Southern-country sound and easier-to-place lyrics. Though still a great record, even Bridwell has admitted the album was created with an urgency to keep B.O.H. fresh in the minds of listeners. Not exactly the most artistic of processes.
It was in the wake of these two recordings and just before the coming release of their third album – “Infinite Arms” on May 18 – that B.O.H. took the stage for its sold-out show at the Ogden. The band was led by the Garibaldi-bearded lead vocalist Bridwell, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Ramsey, keyboardist Ryan Monroe and company.
On-stage, the band was framed by a changing backdrop of rugged mountain visuals, wooded scenes, sunsets and skylines, and the occasional stop-framed slide show.
Was there any better way to begin the show than with the aptly named “First Song”? Probably not. So they did just that. B.O.H. then worked their way nimbly though a heavy dose of goods from their first two albums. With songs on the more chirpy side of things like the country rocker “Weed Party” to the moody and anthemic “The Great Salt Lake,” the set moved from raucous to contemplative, and back again.
Almost nothing was lost from recording to stage. It was all there – From the desert-country guitar to the reverberating bass lines of “Our Swords.” And Bridwell’s voice is one of the most unmistakable in the biz. He’s a cross between Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Bridwell can be low enough to pull off “countrified,” but can also hit another gear with his reverb-filled heavenly highs.
In-between older fan favorites, B.O.H. stunned the crowd with a new-ish song “Evening Kitchen” that had three part echoing harmonies between Bridwell, Ramsey, and Monroe. The three harmonized while enveloped in a background of glowing, pink celestial waterfalls. It was cosmic Southern country at its best – though I’m pretty sure that’s not really a genre of music.
The show ended with a raucous cover of the Yo La Tengo’s “Sugarcubes, just before Bridwell declared the evening over and turned his sights to Texas.
Read our Reverb review of Band of Horses’ tour-opening stop in Boulder the night before.
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Troy Markgraf is a Denver-based writer and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Brian Carney is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.