There is a thunderous drumbeat, followed by exotic animal calls, as Lord Huron, the project of Michigan’s Ben Schneider, appears on stage. The group opens with “Ends Of The Earth,” a propulsive song that establishes the kinetic energy that remains for the entire set. Over a rusty strum, there’s a pile-up of Fleet Foxes-esque harmonies, and the band’s worldly sounds begin to form. At the front of the stage sits its “basket of goodies”—tambourines, maracas and a harmonica—and the group soon uses those tools to take the crowd from deserts and seas (“She Lit A Fire”) to places where night runs into day (“I Will Be Back One Day”). Visuals of hazy mountains are projected behind the band while sweeping orange lights impart a sense of adventure on the Music Hall Of Williamsburg’s stage. It’s the perfect setting on which to play out the group’s epic debut LP, Lonesome Dreams.
Based around gamelan chimes, the track “The Man Who Lives Forever” uses offbeat electronics that get the crowd dancing. The bright, summery ballad is carefully composed, apart from when Schneider zealously screams, “Said that death is a deal that you cannot refuse/But I love you, girl, and I don’t wanna lose you.” A clapping interlude creates an atmospheric moment, as though we’re all huddled together around a bonfire.
“The Ghosts On The Shore” is initially treated with delicacy as the heavy bass eases up and a haunting harmonica kicks in. The room is lit in cool blue hues creating an eerie but tranquil feel just as Schneider sings, “I’m just a man, but I know that I’m dammed.” Then, suddenly, soothing harmonies are contrasted with a roaring drumbeat that puts the song off balance. By “Lonesome Dreams,” Lord Huron’s penchant for storytelling is somewhat lost. The lyrics begin to roll into one another, and the track takes on a pop quality that seems to devour its dreamy core. The galloping “Time To Run” is an ode to the West and brings back the grand romanticism that defines the band’s best songs. The crowd sings along to drawn-out instrumentals that start slow before reverb-soaked guitar picks up.
The band’s encore is definitely a highlight. The soaring track “The Stranger” opens with catchy whistling and calypso beats before technicolor harmonies float in and Schneider delivers his final dark lament of the night: “I can’t trust anyone, or anything these days/If you are who you say you are, then show me your face.”