It’s a peculiar quirk of an overseas artist’s touring schedule that found Lord Huron, the famed indie-folk sensations from Michigan (now based in Los Angeles), playing a ridiculously intimate show at Komedia. As two fellow travellers from North America remarked in the audience, they would usually be expected to perform in anything up to a 5,000 capacity venue back home. Yet, despite their huge fame and success in the U.S. (180 million plays on Spotify for ‘The Night We Met’ alone!), it hasn’t translated into the same mass recognition or ticket sales in the UK just yet – tonight’s show was originally scheduled for Concorde 2. A shame for the very talented band but, in many ways, it made for a better show with the smaller room enabling the crowd to be even further immersed in a special evening.
Support came from Flyte, no strangers to the Brighton circuit after a couple of shows last year. Tonight saw them morph closer to the headline act in style, with the chirpy pop vibes of opener ‘Victoria Falls’ quickly giving way to the gorgeous folk harmonies of the a capella ‘Archie, Marry Me’. There was more than a little Fleet Foxes about the London four-piece tonight, even down to frontman Will Taylor’s unassuming manner. They seem to have found an extra level since their shows of last year and, with Taylor hinting that a headline show, “In a very similar venue to this” is coming soon, it appears it won’t be long before Brighton sees them again. Finishing their short set with ‘Cathy Come Home’ and the beautiful ‘Faithless’, Flyte fully deserved the warm response from an already packed venue.
Despite a break in momentum caused by a 45 minute interlude between bands, there was no dip in atmosphere as Lord Huron finally made their way to the stage. A (literally) banging surf rock intro led by drummer Mark Barry irresistibly merged into the opener ‘The World Ender’. Last to the stage, frontman Ben Schneider formally opened the proceedings with a yelp and a night of evocative Americana began. Originally a solo project, Schneider has added musicians to both the recording and touring band versions of Lord Huron, increasing both depth and texture to a sound that is, on the surface, classic alt-country. However, any attempt to pigeonhole is futile, with a fluidity and high level of musicianship on display all night, pushing the boundaries of what is expected. ‘Meet Me In The Woods’ contains the same drive and rushing rhythm that The War On Drugs have popularised, while ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ is like a musical road trip with its rolling percussion and Schneider’s high croon painting a picture of a thousand words.
The addition of synths and theremin gave an ambient touch to much of the night, with many songs linked by short pieces reminiscent of The KLF’s classic Chill Out in its portrayal of a trip across America. In particular, ‘The Birds Are Singing At Night’ and ‘Way Out There’ feel like a very different band – all bound together and driven onwards by the phenomenal rhythm section of Barry, Miguel Briseño (bass) and Brandon Walters (guitar). Amidst all of the much loved older tracks, a few glimpses were given of this year’s forthcoming Vide Noir. ‘Wait By The River’ was delivered by Schneider in an almost doo-wop style, while ‘Ancient Names’ layers a funky riff on top of a deliciously hazy intro. The newer pieces feel perhaps less upbeat in nature, though the latter’s ferocious second part gave the night a whole new momentum. Regardless, there is a lot to unpack with the newer material and it’s apparent that an interesting album awaits.
Closing the encore with a beautiful rendition of ‘The Night We Met’, a track made famous by its appearance in a pivotal moment from Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, before a massively crowd-pleasing ‘Fool For Love’, Lord Huron gave a perfect example of their dual appeal. Songs for the heart, songs for the feet. Whether making a crowd gently sway into each other’s arms, or dance the night away, they cater for everyone. The UK may be catching on to them later than back home, but the end results will undoubtedly be the same.