People who have known me for a long time may be a bit surprised at this post. Generally speaking, I like music with a lot of energy about it, such as driving beats and good hooks. However, last night I saw an absolutely fantastic show at the Variety Playhouse: Iron & Wine with Band of Horses, a Seattle band that seemed to be making their first trip eastwards.
What can I say about the show other than it was mesmerizing. Sam Beam's music started quiet and slow (think of the song "Such Great Heights" from the Garden State soundtrack) but slowly built. He plugged in and allowed his band greater flexibility to be a bit more noisy as the show progressed. Then, they slowly reigned it back end to finish with an absolutely haunting, quiet number that sent the (near?) capacity crowd back into the Atlanta night.
The most memorable part about the show, however, was how bemused Sam Beam seemed about the whole thing. It's almost as if he couldn't believe that a packed house in Atlanta (in his words the "big city") would be clamoring for his music. It made the show all that more endearing since it seemed like him and some friends just playing good music on his porch (Ed note: with electricity and his sister providing harmony).
You find a few Iron & Wine mp3s made available from SubPop for download here. I'd especially recommend "Woman King" and "Naked as We Came."
I really liked the music provided by the opening act, but the lead singer's voice too often got a bit lost, and he had an interesting voice. All in all, they were very hard to categorize. I heard things as disparate as Iron & Wine and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (circa Pack Up the Plantation). They did play a steel guitar though. And that was cool.
And Craig. If you read this. I hope Asheville was fun. You missed a helluva show.
NP: Decibully - "Small Circles"
UPDATE: Earlier Iron & Wine post. I'd almost forgotten about that.