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Central Park, New York | September 22, 2016

Last week Band of Horses hit Central Park’s Summerstage for a co-bill along with newcomers White Denim. Walking through the park on the beautiful weekday night, you could have been expecting a show on the Great Lawn with 100,00 people. Once you find the Rumsey Playfield on the park’s eastern edge, you will find that Summerstage is a refreshingly intimate outdoor venue in the middle of New York City.

White Denim took the stage promptly at 7:30pm to a crowd that was still filling in. The prog-rockers performed a playful set and showed off their musical abilities that allow them to be jammy when they want to be. Their songs are extremely catchy, and the guys certainly know how to keep a crowd on their feet. The band’s most recent album Stiff was released to mixed reviews, and while their set mostly consisted of songs from it, they sounded much better live.

Once Band of Horses took the stage the sun had set and the venue was completely full. The Seattle rockers started things off slow, with frontman Ben Bridwell seated behind a pedal steel guitar. Bridwell built things up, finally standing as the full band burst into “Causal Party”, the first single off their most recent album, Why Are You Ok? The first chunk of their set consisted of all new material, which the crowd still didn’t seem too familiar with.

About halfway through their set Band of Horses amped things up, diving into tracks from their breakthrough album, Cease to Begin. This was my first time seeing the band that I have admired for years live, and Bridwell’s voice truly impresses in person. His rich vocals stood out as they ran through their classics’ “Is There A Ghost,” “No One’s Gonna Love You” and “The General Specific”. Everyone was singing along through the stretch.

Band of Horses is quite the compelling band to see live as they can go from eerily quiet to arena shaking loud in an instant. The slower moments are always perfectly executed, never killing the pace of the show. Ben Bridwell may be the band’s frontman, but guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Monroe is their staple that has remained constant throughout the member changes they’ve gone through since forming in 2004. Monroe’s backing vocals are what make Band of Horses’ melodies what they are known for.

The band has surely grown tired of playing their biggest hit “The Funeral”, but they would never let you know as they closed the show with it, setting the crowd on fire. Band of Horses came to rock, and they did not disappoint, proving themselves masters of harmony and pace. Hearing their thoroughbred ballads live is a reminder that these guys are not going away anytime soon.

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