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Review Thu Feb 20 2014

Band of Horses Acoustically Rock The Vic, 2/19

I've been a Band of Horses fan for a long time. So long, in fact, that the band's sound has grown synonymously with my own life, as I've been listening since the release of their sophomore album, Cease to Begin, back in 2007. I was immediately captivated by song "No One's Gonna Love You": the unique vocals of lead singer Ben Bridwell, the dreamy yet deliberate guitar backing, the poetic lyrics. They poured their talent into each of their songs as they did this one, and I was hooked.

So, I kept following, and kept learning. I listened through 2010's Infinite Arms, to 2012's Mirage Rock, and reverted back to a listen of their first album released in 2006, Everything All The Time. One thing they've always kept about them is an egregious, youthful sound that carries their appeal far. Their music is always fresh and inventive, infused with Americana rock flair all the while.

I've seen them three times before yesterday evening; once, at festival Farm Aid three years back, once at the Riviera Theatre in October of 2010, and once at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the summer of 2012. All three concerts were extremely magical, and I've craved to see them another time. As their sound is extremely full-bodied, I was ecstatic to learn that their tour was going to be an all-acoustic set featuring the full band. I wondered how the moving "The First Song" would translate in such a capacity, or how high-octane songs like "Is There A Ghost" could possibly hold the same weight. However, the show was able to completely transform old styles of their recorded ballads, and morph them to fit the acoustic setting perfectly.

The stage was arranged casually, like it was crafted to look like the basement of your childhood home. Antique lamps adorned the stage, with a bottle of red wine delicately perched on a small table in front of one of the mic areas. Chairs, microphones, and instruments lined the stage, awaiting the full band to emerge and begin the set. Immediately, the group began a powerhouse show.

Playing the closing track off of their primary album, "St. Augustine," Ben emerged to sing a solo rendition of the song that was simply exquisite, as the golden spotlight shined down upon him and the audience watched in a strict reverence. He was joined gradually by members of the group, until the entire band was represented as they sat in the "makeshift basement" concert space. It felt comfortable, like we were joining them for an intimate jam session where only those close to the band were invited.

As the set progressed and the band eased into a stronger sense of comfort, seemingly so did the slightly raucous crowd. Despite this, the energy of the crowd as a whole allowed the band to engage in casual, hilarious banter with members of the audience who would yell out a random comment from time to time, which kept the energy building throughout the entire set.

Highlights of the show included the most reworked tunes in a live setting, including the sweet "Laredo," stunning "The Funeral," and the Americana alt-country version of "Weed Party." The group truly outdid themselves in preparing and adjusting their music in order to make it sound absolutely perfect in a live setting, and that versatility is what allows the group's musical identity to truly shine amongst the rest.


Melissa / February 21, 2014 12:05 AM

I would totally love to see a show on this tour. Do you remember what time they started compared to the time on the ticket? And how long they played?

I have a chance to see the Ryman show after a business dinner and I'm wondering how much of it I could catch.

Sarah Brooks / February 24, 2014 3:29 PM

Hi Melissa,

They began playing their set at 9:15pm, with show starting at 8pm and one opener. They then played for about an hour and 15 minutes.

I hope you'll get the chance to see them - it was well worth it!

Melissa / February 24, 2014 10:51 PM

Oh that's great! I didn't know there was an opener. The Ryman show has a 7:30 ticket but even if they start at 8:45 I bet I can make most of it.

Thanks for the info, Sarah! You've gotten me even more excited for this show.

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Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records


Fri Aug 22 2014
Ken Vandermark's Audio One @ Constellation

Fri Aug 22 2014
Bridgepork @ Maria's

Fri Aug 22 2014
Jeff Daniels and Ben Daniels Band @ SPACE

Fri Aug 22 2014
Boulevard Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
Ken Vandermark's Audio One @ Constellation

Sat Aug 23 2014
Deer Tick @ Metro

Sat Aug 23 2014
Drivin' and Cryin' @ Reggies

Sat Aug 23 2014
Bridgepork @ Maria's

Sat Aug 23 2014
The Boulevard Festival

Sun Aug 24 2014
Robyn & Röyksopp Do It Again @ Pritzker Pavilion

Sun Aug 24 2014
Monkey Business Backyard BBQ @ Sportsman's Club

Sun Aug 24 2014
The Boulevard Festival

Wed Aug 27 2014
The Dutchess and the Duke @ Empty Bottle

Featured Series


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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Anne Holub,
Transmission staff inbox:



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