Following their triumphant ACL Festival set, Band of Horses joined us to tape their second Austin City Limits show, returning to the stage they first played six years ago. Celebrating the release of their fifth album Why Are You OK, the South Carolina quintet brought their A-game for an easygoing but rocking set.
To the crowd’s delight, the band began strong right out of the gate with “Is There a Ghost,” the powerhouse that kicks off their second record Cease to Begin. BOH reached even further back to their debut LP Everything All the Time for “The Great Salt Lake,” a less soaring but no less compelling anthem. Ringmastered by perennially upbeat frontman Benjamin Bridwell, the group then jumped forward to their latest record, rocking their way through the radio hit “Casual Party” and “Solemn Oath.” Bridwell and company next romped through “Laredo,” the hit from their bestselling LP Infinite Arms, before going back to the new LP for the country rockin’ “Throw My Mess,” featuring Tyler Ramsey’s slide guitar.
A quick set change later, Bridwell and Ramsey commanded the stage by themselves, the latter fingerpicking an acoustic guitar while the former put his heart and soul into singing “No One’s Gonna Love You,” one of the band’s loveliest ballads. Bridwell donned an acoustic guitar and welcomed keyboardist Ryan Monroe back to the stage wielding a mandolin. The trio circled a single microphone to capture both acoustic instruments and three-part harmonies for “Part One,” a new folk classic from the debut LP. Ramsey and Monroe left the stage while bassist Bill Reynolds and drummer Creighton Barrett came back, as Bridwell took a chair and a second bass for the low-end pop song “Our Swords.” Full band once again assembled, the Horses essayed the organ-heavy ballad “Detlef Schrempf,” dedicated to the German basketball player of the same name.
After four tunes in a row from the first two albums, Band of Horses rejoined OK with a pair of striking songs: the synth-frosted pop tune “Hag” and the anthemic “In a Drawer,” which started slow and pretty before exploding into lighter-waving rock & roll. “Now that we’re all happy, here’s a song about death,” quipped Bridwell before fan favorite “The Funeral,” a song from that debut that also starts graceful and breaks into thunder. The latter’s big rock finish brought the audience to their feet, but the Horses weren’t finished. Banging a tambourine with a drumstick, Bridwell led the group through the rollicking “The General Specific,” to wild applause. It was a fine rock & roll show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs early next year as part of our Season 42 on your local PBS station.