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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Band of Horses Orpheum performance silences neigh-sayers

Although it was a Sunday, The Orpheum was as lively as ever Sunday night with indie rock group Band of Horses performing at the set. Gathering a crowd of all ages, the band packed in an extremely lively show, ending the weekend on an electrifying note.

The night opened with the vibrant band Wild Belle. This was a rare case in which the opening band was so exceptional that it threatened to outperform the main act. Wearing a camouflage jumpsuit and strutting onto the stage, lead singer Natalie Bergman was the embodiment of a wild belle. Her unique voice had a beautiful, raspy texture that gave off a southern twang. Mixed with her brother Elliot’s saxophone talents, this duo performed a unique and fun sound, blending pop, funk and reggae.

The band began with the psychedelic song, “Mississippi River,” with a beat that thumped through the audience’s chests. Next came “Losing You,” a tropical, contagious tune with a woodblock beat drifting in and out of the guitar riffs. “Dreamland” was the best showcase of Bergman’s smooth and emotional vocals, hitting new heights as her sweet voice reached falsetto. “Another Girl” featured crashing symbols that awakened the song’s reflective beginning with a jolt of anger. “Giving Up On You” brought the crowd to a new level of excitement, so much so that Bergman accidentally gave herself a bloody lip from tossing the mic back and forth, joking after the injury, “That song always gets me.” Later she announced, "We've been on this tour for two weeks. This is definitely the best crowd we've been to,” with a roaring response from the crowd. “Love Like This,” one of the strongest songs, embraced the reggae influence with a slow and light beat that brought Bergman to swagger across the stage, arching her back as she fully immersed herself within the beat. Wild Belle finished with their most recognizable song, “Keep You,” leaving the crowd torn between craving more of their distinctive sound or proceeding to the main act.

Band of Horses has changed its sound dramatically over the years, ranging from melancholy and tender to vibrant and upbeat. The band seemed to have decided on the latter as they played songs mainly from their new, emotionally lighter album, Why Are You Ok, that debuted this past June. The group’s debut album spans back to 2006, which explained a mismatched crowd of thirty-somethings and teenagers. Gracing the stage in a baseball cap and T-shirt, lead singer Ben Bridwell was greeted by an ardent crowd eager for him to begin. Bridwell’s performance was energetic and whole-hearted, his mouth wide and face contorted as he boomed his vocals to the vivacity of each song. Unfortunately, a lot of Bridwell’s voice was consumed and lost to the over-amplified other instruments, yet the crowd did not mind as the loudness was elated enough to energize the jam-packed room.

The beautiful song “Factory” brought the band back to its nostalgic and poignant roots. “Marry Song,” of their 2007 album, calmed the crowd to a slower melody with a simplistic keyboard rhythm and beautifully accompanied harmonies. “The Great Salt Lake” presented a unique live performance that shifted between head-bopping vivacity to somber quiet, with Bridwell’s emotions coming through. A popular favorite, “Is There a Ghost,” had the bass guitar resonate throughout the Orpheum’s stage to the haunting melody. One of their most emotionally laced tracks, “No One’s Gonna Love You,” had Bridwell furrowing his brow and looking into the distance as if reminiscing on the past. To finish off the night, the group predictably ended with their fan favorite, tear-inducing anthem, “The Funeral” with the stage beginning completely black and ending with sharp bursts of white light, solidifying a powerfully atmospheric final performance.

Wild Belle’s lush, reggae riffs and Band of Horses’ beachy and effervescent refrains temporarily affixed an aural climate that warmed the ears of Madison locals, instilling a fiery night that would linger with fans even as they braved the cold and exited the theater.

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