Concert Roundup: Lord Huron prove they are no ordinary cowboys

Lord+Huron+lead+singer+Ben+Schneider+serenading+the+crowd+with+a+performance+of+Mine+Forever.

Mariadelcarmen Zuniga

Lord Huron lead singer Ben Schneider serenading the crowd with a performance of “Mine Forever.”

by Ryan Hardison, Arts & Culture Editor

How do you know you’ve really lived until you die? 

To Lord Huron, there’s only one way to truly solve this ideological riddle: feel as much as you can, even the moments that haunt you.

Elaborating on this theme, the Los Angeles-based indie folk quartet hosted a night of love, loss, regret and absolution at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre on Oct. 27. Lord Huron’s adventurous appeal translated to a truly stunning show packed with radiance and charisma while transitioning from resilient anthems to soft crooning.

Pairing seamlessly with Lord Huron’s indie rock sound, the concert opened with Skyway Man, an eccentric personality with the same mannerisms and appearance of a quirky character who hangs on the outskirts of the Salton Sea. Despite his Bay Area origins, his music screamed New Mexico, with the same ominous tunes of the opening theme to “Breaking Bad.”

For the main event, the stage was shone fully decorated with faded cardboard cutouts of cacti and rocky, desert landscape. A decorative tribute to the Old West or to “Woody’s Roundup” from “Toy Story 2.”  

With this style of saloon jukebox music, bolo ties and wool jackets would be the expected fashion on the menu. Instead, the band appeared as clean-cut, new-age cowboys. Lead singer Ben Schneider jaunted around the stage waving his cowboy hat and flinging back his long, wavy hair. The wind flowing past his head created a shimmering, splendid figure, like a Jebediah Jesus. 

There is no better way to start a performance than by drawing attention to center stage with a spotlight, cultivating the entire crowd’s attention onto a single segment of space. For a solo under the lights, the band began with “The Moon Doesn’t Mind,” a goosebump-inducing appetizer, and the intro to the band’s most recent album “Long Lost” — a perfectly-tailored concept album fit for a singing sidekick to a John Wayne action hero.

Bass guitarist Miguel Briseño set the tone for the atmosphere of each song, switching from an upbeat bass guitar to a soothing double bass.
Bass guitarist Miguel Briseño set the tone for the atmosphere of each song, switching from an upbeat bass guitar to a soothing double bass. (Mariadelcarmen Zuniga)

With full focus on Schneider, the song presented a haunting plea for peace where a disoriented soul begs for anybody to listen. It’s the group’s most ruggedly beautiful song, and should be four times longer than its bite-sized one minute runtime. Paired with a semi-circle crevice on the back wall of the stage, light began gradually rising up like the morning sun shining over the desert display.  

Throughout the night, the beauty of the music was extended by an extremely colorful light show matching the rhythm of the beat, especially on upbeat anthems like “Not Dead Yet.” There were lots of warm tones, with pink and yellow lights spinning around providing the most glow. 

Many of the band’s songs create a serene ambiance referencing the glistening highlights of nature whilst reminiscing times of pure elation and scintillating regret. “Meet Me in the Woods” and its folksy companion piece “Meet Me in the City” — highlighted by a slow, twangy surf guitar — portrayed this especially well. On these tracks in particular, Schneider is positioned as a frontier man who spins tales of remorse and despair.

Pairing with the ambient tunes of the night, a semi-circle behind the stage began filling up with light and resembling the sun.
Pairing with the ambient tunes of the night, a semi-circle behind the stage began filling up with light and resembling the sun. (Mariadelcarmen Zuniga)

The night’s best songs undoubtedly came from “Long Lost,” with the overarching message of regret being extended the most throughout the concert. Schneider was inspired by the feel and stories of an old-timey studio the band began using to record this album, and decided to create a world rich with scenery and stories. This includes records like “Love Me Like You Used To, ” a track about begging for a chance at relationship redemption. 

There was also the title track “Long Lost,” the group’s biggest passion piece for nature and ode to struggling with one’s true purpose. It’s firmly evocative of the rural American landscape and the rock-bottom feeling of hopelessness. 

In spite of the heavy subject matter, the show could be described as incredibly soothing. Matching with the laid-back mood of most of the night’s festivities, the crowd swayed from side-to-side matching the swiftness of the wind. For the more upbeat entries, people’s heads began hopping up and down, with bodies awkwardly flinging around like “Peanuts” characters. 

There were many light-hearted moments, including Schneider donning a Dia De Los Muertos-esque skeleton mask for a performance of “The World Ender,” and delivering jovial monologues after each batch of songs.

Ultimately, the show’s climax was “I Lied” — a ballad that’s equal parts sorrowful and wistful about a married couple’s mutual failure to live up to their vows. Its breezy production is evocative of how easy it is to drift in and out of love while feelings fade into the air. 

Soon after, the slow and contemplative “Where Did the Time Go” and an intimate performance of “The Night We Met” about a lifetime’s biggest regret, winded the proceedings down completely and left concertgoers to contemplate their own sorrow on the ride home.