Lord Huron’s Charlottesville debut
Los angeles natives “illuminate” Jefferson stage
Emerging as one of indie folk’s biggest names, Lord Huron made their Charlottesville debut Sunday night at the Jefferson Theater.
Opening their show was an another Los Angeles-based indie band named Superhumanoids, whose hard drum beats and synthesizers reflected old styles of 80s new wave, echoing similar influences to that of popular alternative bands such as M83.
The environment at the Jefferson was a combination of Charlottesville hipsters, dim lighting and the faint smell of beer. The space was relatively small, bringing the entire audience within 50 yards of the band. Watching lead singer Ben Schneider’s every head shake and casual adjustment to his hat was a gripping experience.
Lord Huron entered the stage under dark blue lighting in front of a simple canvas backdrop of unidentified mountains. The lights then came up quickly and illuminated all five band members, dressed in a combination of wool suits and the occasional bolo tie.
The sound was striking; it was as if I had never actually listened to the music on their album. Each instrument was illuminated, rather than mixed and laid over on a record. The band’s western influences stood out complete with harmonicas, two acoustic guitars and one slide, a washboard-like instrument. The ensemble was coupled with backup voices that somehow captured the sound I imagine a coyote would make if it were to sing.
Lord Huron only interacted with the audience minimally, seeming to lose sight of the fact that they were on a stage. The performance, though loud and captivating, seemed very internal for each band member.
Particularly spectacular to me was the technical skill. Schneider played mainly the guitar, but would also pull out the occasional harmonica and bass drum. Most impressive was Miguel Briseño’s drum-work, mastering difficult rhythms while adding to the coherence of the rest of the instruments.
Though engaging, the concert was rather predictable. The beauty of concerts is that the artist has the ability to present in whichever way they please, adding harmonies, extending a song or sneaking in a surprise drum solo — but Lord Huron largely avoided such improvisation. Paired with the group’s lack of interaction with the audience, and the sporadic technical glitches which caused Schneider’s voice to occasionally drown out certain instruments, the show was just shy of of a truly mesmerizing performance.
Nevertheless, this concert transformed me from one of Lord Huron’s casual listeners into one of their true fans. If they make a trip back to Charlottesville, I’ll be most definitely buying a ticket.