HOLY SHIT ITS COLD OUT HERE!!! Over an hour before the doors were to open my wife found herself 2nd in line. Now my wife hates the cold, I mean she despises the cold on a level similar to the hate most real music fans hold towards Justin Bieber. Yet here she was sitting outside the Lincoln Theater 90 plus minutes before doors in what started as 34 degree weather but quickly plummeted as the sun fell behind the buildings and the night wind picked up speed while howling down U Street. To say she was determined to sit front row for this show was an understatement. Let’s roll the calendar back a few years to get the real grasp for where this determination started.
4 years ago I get a text “Shit, Band of Horses are playing 9:30 club, I really want to see them but tickets went on sale weeks ago” This was well before we fine-tuned our attack plan for getting tickets to shows we know are going to sell out. I also at this point never heard of BoH so after seeking out a few of their tracks I set out to find tickets. I end up getting a set from some young lady who would only meet me in the center of Dupont Circle in the middle of the day and with a friend who stood about 4 feet behind her during the whole transaction. It wasn’t her that was getting robbed that day it was me since I was forking over what at the time was 3 times the face value for the tickets. It would be months before I told my wife the actual price I paid for the tickets. We saw them the first time at 9:30 club, than we ended up having to drive to Philly on a Tuesday night to see them after Kings of Leon’s front man proved to the world that he was no Keith Richards and had to go to rehab thus canceling the tour that was coming through the DC area. BOH was the opening band for that show and in true professional manner did everything they could to reschedule each and every show albeit in 3 hours north in Philly. It was well worth the drive to see them in Philly. The next time we got to see them was down in Charlotte NC. 8 hours on a bus down there and 8 hours on a bus home lesson learned on that trip. Don’t take the mega bus for more than 4 hours!
So the ground work for the lengths that would be traveled to see BoH was paved years in advance. I was not surprised at all when we found out about the acoustic tour weeks before tickets went on sale and formulated a game plan to get as many tickets as we could so we could be joined by friends for what was bound to be an amazing show. Not long after the tickets arrived did Shaina lay out her plan to camp out no matter what the weather so she could have front row seats. She laid this all out with a lengthy dissertation of how this was “THE” show to try to get to the front row. It was clear by the thought and reasoning she put into her decision to get front row that nothing was stopping her and I knew immediately that even if I wanted to there would be no talking her out of trying to get to the front.
So there we were sitting in the front row looking at the stage that is set up much like a living room. In what has become their common signature entrance BoH strolls on the stage and greats the audience with a thank you for coming. But this band is different when they say thank you for coming you get the feeling they actually mean it. It’s not just a rehearsed line they spew out every night as it was part of their hit lyrics. There is feeling behind it and it is conveyed with a genuine smile and delight. They open with Ben, Ryan, and Tyler standing around a mic and set the tone right from the start with how this night is going to play out. From the first note you could tell this whole tour was about having fun and getting to know the audience. The chatter between the band and the Audience started during the first song and didn’t end until the house lights came up. The band seemed to have no other agenda than to have fun playing music. Taking requests from the audience and even responding to ones fans request to play “Heartbreak on the 101” with “Come on nobody likes that song”. This is a band that does not take themselves to serious, Their shows sell out within hours of going on sale. Just this week alone they have been on the Ellen show and the night prior on Latenight with David Letterman. But here this night you would never guess they were more than a local band playing to their most diehard and beloved fans. All of which new the words to every song played. Hootting and hollering was the back drop for the night followed each time by smiles from the band.
This show was something right up my alley; I love acoustic music and intimate venues. This served both very well. The acoustic show hid nothing and left the band at its most vulnerable. Every note is heard clear as can be with ever crackle of a string or tap of a drum is heard throughout the venue. You miss a note in this setting and the whole audience will know it. Keep in mind that this environment lends itself well to the somewhat gritty yet soulful voice of Ben Bridwell’s which I find unique and perfect for this style of music. The acoustic setting also allowed for the audience to hear the three distinct voices of Ben, Tyler and Ryan blend together and become one powerful balance of melody and harmony that at times is lost in an electrified show. Each member took their due turn to show their skills and talents during different solos that flowed well into each song and never really left you sitting their thinking “its solo time”. Standouts to me would be the unassuming bass player who proves not to judge a book by its cover. He hit that stand up every which way but Sunday, even playing some of the best slap bass I have seen in a long ass time than slowing it down and adding to “Funeral” with the slow stroke of the bow bringing out the deep cords of that mate black standup and adding a new vibe to a song that everybody has heard multiple times but never quite like this. Makes sense he is also a producer.
The show covered all their popular songs even to my wife great pleasure “Dilly” which up to this point I have never seen them perform live. As the show progressed on getting closer and closer to what everybody knew would be the 1st ending of the concert, the band put all mystery to rest and stated “We are going to play two more songs, then take a break before coming out and playing some more.” This of course made the audience not only happy but also laugh at the honesty. We all know it is going to happen at 99% of the shows we go see. It was just nice for once to have the band call out the elephant in the room and state that an encore is imminent. Upon their return to the stage the band announced they will be playing one more song, To which a friend of ours also sitting in the front row yells out “No Two more” Ben being within ear shot of this smiled and replied with “Ok two”. At this point the audience turned it into a call for requests. There were calls for everything from the preverbal “Freebird” to the Kings of Leons song “Sex on Fire” I took this a a shot at KOL for the canceled tour a couple years ago. The encore ended up being three songs all of which were played with the same enthusiasm as the first song of the night. You got the feeling that they would have played forever if they could. At no time did you get the feeling they were doing anything other than enjoying themselves as much as the fans were.
While I understand that acoustic music is not for everybody I would challenge any music fan to try and catch their favorite act in an acoustic setting. This BoH show was by far there best to date performance I have seen of theirs and while it is still early in the year the best show I have seen in 2014. No time soon will I forget this show, not only because of how unique it was or who I shared it with but also because it was just fucking awesome in so many ways.
Till the next show