So I should just cut to the chase. YES, the Rural Alberta Advantage was also a part of this show, and YES I did leave before they played. But KM and I came to see LH, and we both have early morning adult jobs. And it’s nice not to feel completely destroyed the day after from standing until past midnight. And I’m not even that into RAA so I don’t feel like it was really a loss. Whatever – get off my back, mom!
Despite missing RAA, this may have been my favorite concert so far for 2011. The opening act, San Francisco’s own Vandella, was a huge surprise (no one ever expects the opener to be good, right?), setting the bar quite high for the rest of the night. After they began, KM and I gave each other an OMG are you hearing this too? expression and settled in for a beautiful, foot-thumping set. Singer Tracey Holland’s vocals were a-ma-zing live (big kudos to the sound guy that night), and the cover of James Brown’s “Try Me” was a fresh take on a soul classic. If you’re into Neko Case/Jenny Lewis/insert-female-indie-darling-here, you’ll love Vandella (here’s a great interview). I only wish I’d known the rest of the songs so I could sing along.
As for Lord Huron, I will preface it with a story: My brother once said, whilst listening to my iPod in the car, that all I had was a lot of reverb-laden “hipster” music. That may or may not be true, but I know what he meant, and I guess Lord Huron falls into this category as well. Reverb can really amplify and expand good vocals, but it can also be used to disguise mediocre ones, so I was pretty curious (and somewhat hesitant) to hear what LH would sound like live.
What I got exceeded my expectations. Without any fuss or introductions, they launched energetically into “Mighty”, and it became immediately clear that we’d be getting a performance equal to or better than the sound of the EPs. I feel like I’m hearing a LOT of Caribbean-esque percussion these days (not complaining!), but LH really makes the tropical, lush texture their own. KM said the harmonies and jangly guitar reminded her of Graceland, and I would have to agree. Also, in Random Instruments news: at one point the bass player may or may not have been playing the theremin (what was that thing?) and later took a turn on the melodica. Let’s hear it for wacky instruments! LH played their entire seven-song catalogue, with “We Went Wild” as a climactic finish.
Lord Huron setlist:
2. Into The Sun
3. The Problem With Your Daughter
4. Son of a Gun
5. The Stranger
6. When Will I See You Again
7. We Went Wild
Vandella setlist (incomplete) Complete – thanks Chris!:
1. Some Say…
3. Only One and Only (Gillian Welch)
5. Mother Mississippi
6. Try Me (James Brown)
7. Red & Gold
8. Laying Down To Die