Lord Huron, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY- 2/24
Taking the stage in front of a glowing orange mountain range backdrop, Lord Huron successfully transferred the natural yet mystic sensibilities of their full-length debut Lonesome Dreams into the live setting for a sold out New York crowd. With the album’s release creating a wave of a buzz, Lord Huron’s rise towards prominence has been swift, as they’ve grown from playing Brooklyn’s tiny Glasslands last fall to selling out 2 nights at the 600-person capacity Music Hall of Williamsburg. Featuring a sizable palette of instruments lushly layered like a collage, Lonesome Dreams is the kind of album that could be a challenge to pull off live. But from the first harmonies of opener “Ends of the Earth,” the band captured the same stunning attention to detail that marked the album.
Though the mellow folk of “Ends of the Earth” is hardly the attention grabber that most rising young bands would welcome a New York crowd with, its chorus of “To the end, to the end, won’t you follow me?” served as a pleasantly appropriate introduction for an audience who were mostly seeing the band for the first time. Despite the relatively languid pace of “Ends of the Earth,” the crowd danced along to the song’s tribal percussion during the instrumental break. While their songs lean closest to gentle folk rock, Lord Huron are musically propelled by drummer Mark Berry and the interesting patterns he imprints on each song (with his bandmates helping on various percussion toys). At their best moments, the show felt like a campfire revival, as the crowd danced along to lively drums while frontman Bed Schneider sang tales of solitary exploration.
As a young band with little history of performing as a headlining act, Lord Huron are still learning how to structure their live sets. Perhaps the greatest strength of Lonesome Dreams is the flow of the album, as it hearkens back to a time when albums were created as works of art to be enjoyed in one sitting, with no shuffling or pausing. Each song unwinds gorgeously into the next, and acts as a slice of a larger story. In some ways, performing these songs out of order with older material mixed in almost felt like the breaking of a spell. While the upbeat “The Man Who Lives Forever,” highlighted by one of Berry’s most fascinating drum beats, fit right in after “Ends of the Earth,” the crowd energy then started to lull a little bit as the band dove into a couple of songs from their earlier EPs.
A brilliant take on “Strangers” by The Kinks proved to be the perfect cover choice and recaptured the audience’s attention, as the song’s chorus of “Strangers on this road we are on, we are not two we are one” appropriately summed up the adventurous spirit that fuels Schneider’s own songwriting. Lord Huron saved most of their more upbeat songs for the end of the show, performing “She Lit A Fire” and “Lonesome Dreams” with a harder-edged passion that drove the crowd into frenzied dancing. The band had barely grazed the one-hour mark by the time they wrapped up their encore, which served as another reminder of just how young and developing they still are. But with the ability to pull off the intricate percussion arrangements and grand vocal harmonies of their album live, Lord Huron are poised to catch a few new ears on the festival circuit this summer and continue to their meteoric growth.