Tag Archives: Ben Schneider

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Crooning in Central Park on the Last Summer Sunday

September 16th, 2013

Alt-J/Lord Huron – Rumsey Playfield – September 15, 2013


Late-summer breezes swept over Rumsey Playfield in Central Park last night as a sold-out crowd gathered to hear music by two remarkable sets of musicians. Lord Huron, an indie folk-rock band with rich soundscapes that really belong in an outdoor setting, performed first. Frontman Ben Schneider complimented the venue: “It feels real good to be back in New York on a night like this. It really is beautiful here.” Songs from the band’s debut full-length album, Lonesome Dreams, and their two previous EPs rang out as the light of day drained from the park. A gauzy backdrop of mountaintops was backlit in sunset colors for the duration of the set, giving Lord Huron’s music a palpable glow.

After a brief intermission, the grinning gentlemen of Alt-J took the fog-filled stage and launched straight into their set without saying a word. When I saw them play a much smaller New York City venue a year ago, they radiated a unique, infectious vibe and their music stayed with me for days afterward. The band’s trademark sound, which is characterized by perplexing arrangements and frequent a cappella harmonies, is somewhat complicated to reproduce in a live setting. Despite the difficulty, Alt-J strive to recreate their songs live in a way that gets the entire crowd to lean forward and sing along. While their repertoire is still relatively small, they make up for the brevity of their performance with sheer clarity in their delivery of the songs. The set was constructed around An Awesome Wave, last year’s debut album that’s garnered the quartet abundant praise, including the 2012 Mercury Prize.

Opening with “Intro,” their LP’s lead track, seemed fitting due to its name, although it was a bold move due to the deeply subdued elements of the instrumental song. When Alt-J launched into an especially beat-heavy version of “Fitzpleasure,” any worries I had that this show would be too quiet went out the window. “Bloodflood” came next and the set began to simulate the ebb and flow of the tide. “Buffalo” and “Something Good” soared with hushed vocals, agile guitar and constrained drum beats. “Tessellate” was an invitation to start dancing and sing along to the sultry lyrics and Jon Newman’s coarse voice. “Matilda” and “Dissolve Me” came next, each telling a story of unconditional love. “Hand-Made” slipped into a fine-drawn a cappella cover of College’s “A Real Hero.” “Taro” rounded out the set, and “Ms” and crowd-favorite “Breezeblocks” provided the encore. While the night of music was short, I’m sure everyone left feeling lucky to have spent one of the last days of summer swaying to music from some of the indie scene’s most talented crooners. —Schuyler Rooth

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

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Lord Huron Kick Off Summer at Webster Hall

June 24th, 2013

Lord Huron – Webster Hall – June 21, 2013


Led by Ben Schneider, the Los Angeles–based Lord Huron provide the perfect soundtrack for wanderlust, scaling mountains overlooking lagoons and lakes below. And while recent album Lonesome Dreams evolved from a trip home to Michigan, it could just as easily have been inspired by the trails of Laurel Canyon. Either way, Schneider knows how to spin a tale of adventure. Keeping in character, he sauntered onstage at sold-old Webster Hall on Friday night wearing a modern cowboy hat. Opening with “Ends of the Earth,” Schneider and Co. enchanted fans right off the bat.

The vibe quickly turned up a notch as the frontman began feverishly clacking the rim of his tenor drum on “The Man Who Lives Forever,” and the crowd joined in, clapping along to “I Will Be Back One Day.” Continuing the musical journey, “Mighty” fluctuated between trekking atop mountains back down to a calypso party by the lagoon. Jingling chimes warranted hopping and skipping from Schneider as the song climaxed with a pounding of the skins that caused his hat to fly off—the particularly percussion-heavy song from their EP of the same name bares some sonic resemblances to another L.A. band, Fool’s Gold.

An overly chatty crowd marred what could have been a serene moment as Schneider strapped on his harmonica to croon the ballad-y “The Ghost on the Shore.” Maybe it was his recognition of the first day of summer that riled them preemptively. Or perhaps he should have waited on that exclamation for the next song, the appropriately titled fan favorite “She Lit a Fire.” Putting on his hat again for “Time to Run,” Schneider readied to gallop off into the sunset, but not before offering the country-twanged “Brother,” sans lap steel, and a heavily string-plucky “The Stranger.” For the encore, Schneider came out for “something quiet”: “Lullaby.” But despite shushing from audience members and even from the stage, the crowd’s rambunctiousness remained. After all, summer had just begun. —Sharlene Chiu

 

 

 

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The Life-Affirming Power of Lord Huron

February 25th, 2013

Lord Huron – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 23, 2013


The expansive, hazy mountain range painted on the backdrop that decked the stage for Los Angeles band Lord Huron’s sold-out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night perfectly set the tone for the band’s performance. The types of big thoughts that can pass through one’s mind when looking at such a perfect panorama—life, death, love, the wonders of nature—are all themes that pervade the five-piece’s sentimental debut album, last year’s Lonesome Dreams.

Full of jaunty, layered guitars and vocal harmonies, Lord Huron at times evoked the uplifting alt-country of My Morning Jacket or the Afrobeat fusion of Paul Simon’s Graceland, along with slow-building cinematic swells and joyful moments begging to be clapped along to. Although Lord Huron’s recorded music doesn’t shy away from the understated and mellow, the live version of numbers like “She Lit a Fire” and “The Problem with Your Daughter” had a much sharper bite than their album counterparts, while meditative number “The Ghost on the Shore” was wisely left in its minimal state.

The group’s lone cover of the night, “Strangers” by the Kinks, fit in well with the reflective, exploratory theme of the show, and its lyrics “If I feel tomorrow like I feel today/ We’ll take what we want and give the rest away/ Strangers on this road we are on/ We are not two we are one” seem indirectly referenced in the sentiment of Lord Huron’s lyric: “Out there’s a world that calls for me, girl, heading out into the unknown/ Well if there are strangers and all kinds of danger, please don’t say I’m going alone,” which singer Ben Schneider contemplates on “Ends of the Earth.” Lord Huron’s combination of contagious melodies with the lyrical voice of a philosophical and wonder-filled world traveler clearly resonates with crowds, and as everyone sang and danced along, the vibe inside Music Hall of Williamsburg was as positive and life-affirming as it might be around a campfire, if those misty mountain ranges in the background were real. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com