Photos By Mirando Hontz, Words By Leon Hontz
Monday at 9:30 Club was the night of the storyteller. Hamilton Leithauser opened for Lord Huron with a toned down set featuring two guitars and Leithauser’s distinctive raspy voice which spanned the range from gentle crooning to powerful howling. There is something timeless and inherently fulfilling about the atmosphere that Leithauser created, with lilting guitar riffs providing the setting for Leithauser to showcase his rich and worn voice. With drink in one hand and mic in the other, Leithauser thrived as a mood shaper/storyteller invoking the likes of Waits and Sinatra. At times heavy and driving, at others casual and cool, Leithauser and his accompanying guitarist put in a satisfying performance that showcased their songwriting chops.
Lord Huron’s performance left little doubt as to why they were able to sell out two nights in a row at 9:30. Every aspect of their set is dedicated to capturing an aesthetic, from the performance of the musicians to the set and lighting of the stage. Their music grabs hold of a theme, stretching and shaping it through distinct yet coherent phases without ever breaking the theme or letting it go. Set against the backdrop of their new album Strange Trails, Lord Huron led the audience through a sonic landscape filled with memorable people and places.
With the crackling of an old tube radio, Lord Huron started our journey. Songs like “Love Like Ghosts” carried us down an infinite and empty highway where visions dance on the side of the road, briefly illuminated by the light of your headlights. Night gave way to the brilliant chill and burst of color that are the hallmarks of desert mornings. We also visited forests and oceans and countless other places through the course of the evening. With the frequent change of settings and tone that are a constant part of Lord Huron’s music, so too is the diverse cast of characters that live within their songs. The effective combination of these elements define Lord Huron as not merely impressive musical talents but also compelling storytellers.
Mention should be made of the way that the band creates space within their songs for each member to flourish and impress. The guitars are captivating, the melodies and harmonies are powerful, and the rhythm section thoughtfully crafts the tone that breathes life into Lord Huron’s stories. Gathered around the campfire as embers whirled above us, Lord Huron was fuel for our spirits and our imaginations. This was a night for the story. Stories of dust and blood and asphalt. Of optimism and defiance and open sky. And more than anything else, it was the night of the storyteller.