Band of Horses’ outsized anthems offer catharsis at Fox Theater

Band of Horses at the Fox Theater (Photo by Samantha Saturday)
Band of Horses at the Fox Theater (Photo by Samantha Saturday)

A dozen years and five albums into a career, Seattle’s Band of Horses are wearing their comfortable shoes. One gets the impression they are exactly where they want to be at this point of their career, playing before a couple of thousand fervent fans in beautiful old theaters. Their sound was perfect Friday night for the Fox Theater in Pomona — big, expansive and sweeping.

Hirsute and clad in denim, flannel and brown, the band roared through one inspired Americana anthem after another. They started by going back nine years for “Is There a Ghost,” then 10 years for “The Great Salt Lake” before performing the single “Casual Party” from their new album “Are You OK,” the taut, Jason Lytle-produced album that came out in June. Ben Bridwell and gang are a stadium band quite happy to be trapped in theaters. Catharsis and redemption are what they are selling and their public was buying.

They also played “In a Drawer” (which on record features Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis) and “Country Teen” from the new album, but the evening’s epic was, of course, “The Funeral,” from their seminal 2006 debut “Everything All the Time.” It is one of those rare songs that transcends space and time, sounding every bit as gripping and brutally honest as it did a decade ago.

Band of Horses is a jam band for people who don’t like jam bands. Sonically similar and yet mercifully brief on the meandering noodling solos, they skillfully write long songs meant for a short attention span.

However, after several consecutive epic squalls, the overwhelming wall of jangly distortion and earnest vocalization tends to lose its bite. A bit of quiet amid the storm would do much to achieve a dynamic their music deserves. The band would do well to expand upon their excellent “Live at the Ryman” album, which featured stripped down version of their songs. All that tension could use a bit of release.

Having Warpaint’s ethereal femme dreampop open for gritty rock band was an odd choice. Playing material from their excellent September release “Heads Up,” the quartet drove their proto-thumpy tunes towards a crowd that sadly, had illiterate feet. And thus, despite their heroic efforts, their vibrant and arty set had the energy sapped from it. Not even the intoxicating beat of their effervescent single “New Song” could pound the whiteness out of the crowd.

||| Live: Band of Horses return to L.A. on May 25 for a show at the Greek Theatre with Frightened Rabbit. Tickets will go on sale Dec. 16.