We had both seen the young band a few years ago when they opened for Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge. This time however, they were headlining their own show so expectations were a little different. They definitely did not disappoint.
In natural rail runner fashion, my heart was racing as we waited for the doors to open. It was raining this particular night in San Diego (who knew that was a thing?) so we were able to wait inside the bar. Still, from years of rail running for DMB my brain automatically goes into survival mode and my anxiety levels rise far beyond what they should. There were only a few other people who were waiting to get up front, but I was still nervous.
When doors opened and they let us into the venue, no one else ran. They didn’t even walk fast. Like always, my rail anxieties were unnecessary but I just can’t turn them off. Anyway, we found our place on the rail and patiently waited for the show to start. The venue was pretty small and intimate. Merchandise was set up in the back and there were a few people starting to gather around looking to buy T-shirts.
Is there any hour longer than the one between the doors opening and the first act? I felt like time was dragging by when really I just wanted to see my band. Luckily, I had good company to entertain me. First up for entertainment was a young performer; I didn’t catch her name, from Canada. She had a nice voice and played well enough. Nothing to write home about- clearly since her name already has slipped my mind. But, she was pleasant and did a nice job for just being out there with her and her guitar.
Not needing a set change, second in line was a band called “Family of the Year.” We knew one of their songs, well, I only know if because Dave would sing it in the car. They were pretty good but seemed to have issues with their sound system. Their mics were way too loud causing an incredibly loud, piercing sound to echo. They ended up playing the one song we knew, “Hero” and after that we were pretty much done. I was beginning to get a headache from the static and was just ready to see Lord Huron.
After a few more songs, Family of the Year started pulling tape and helped with the Lord Huron stage change. I do always love watching how quickly the crew moves in changing stages from one act to another. Before you know it, there is a whole new stage set up right in front of your eyes.
As the lights grew dim and the cheers got louder, our main act was finally ready to appear. Black stage with just a hint of glow from the Strange Trails backdrop, we heard the opening notes to Love Like Ghosts. Slowly as the song continued, the stage lights grew and we saw the boys dressed in a 1950s theme, dancing and jamming as if they had been doing this their whole life.
The first three songs were played on cue right after one another just like the album. Lead singer, Ben, started to talk to the crowd about their new album, their touring and what they’ve been up to. I noticed that some of their members from 2 years ago were no longer with them but their sound was incredible. Nothing impresses me more, musically, than when a band sounds just as great, if not better, live compared to their record. These guys definitely fall into that category of musicians.
It was equally pleasing to see and compare to when they were a young band compared to where they are now. Of course, they are still young and growing but it was fun to see the difference two years can make. Their sound has grown and become stronger and the rhythms have become more dense and interesting. The album gives off a very dark feeling but compared to the light and feel good first album, the two were a funky mix that had us grooving.
Something I love about this band is the unique writing style. Instead of writing based on personal references, Ben and his boys write based on fiction tales they create. They draw inspiration from the west and create characters that you follow on adventures throughout their entire album. They think of it similar to the works of a comic book rather than individual little blurbs about broken hearts and seizing the day.
Closing their encore with their new single, The Night We Met, and crowd favorite, Time to Run, there was no doubt that San Diego was loving this band. I snagged a set list from the crew and then we were on our way, out in the rain, past the tour bus and back home. All in all, I give Lord Huron and their Strange Trails a 10/10. I can’t wait to see them in concert again soon. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and grab their albums for a feel good, great music afternoon.