Lord Huron‘s Milwaukee shows always seem to be underestimated. Their first stint in January of 2014 was moved from Turner Hall Ballroom to The Pabst Theater, and their latest stop in Milwaukee – Saturday’s show at The Riverside was also moved, this time from The Pabst. Saturday’s venue seems a much more fitting setting for their songs, laced with as much storybook history as the venue that housed them that evening.
Ben Schneider and his group Lord Huron now join such famed indie acts like alt-J and The Lumineers to make the venue jump up to The Riverside, which should give you a fair representation of just how far Lord Huron has come since 2012’s Lonesome Dreams. Their latest album, Strange Trails was released earlier this month to relatively booming sales.
When we last saw the group in MKE, the reviews were mixed. Local newspapers found Schneider’s stage presence somewhat lethargic, and I didn’t disagree entirely. However, with the release of Strange Trails, Schneider and company have much more to work with, and it definitely showed.
LH’s stage set up and gear seemed much advanced, with neon lights above the group spelling out, STRANGE 💀 TRAILS, an extra guitar player, hell, even the road crew was wearing “World Enders” leather jackets, a nod to the fictional eponymous motorcycle gang found in one of Lord Huron’s latest songs.
But more importantly, the band’s dynamics have changed greatly. The group played with more energy, gusto and volume this time through, Schneider frequently yelling inaudibly, dancing around, distanced from his microphone(s) enough to face his fellow guitarists (Miguel Briseño and Tom Renaud) and play an added impromptu jam in the middle of a few songs. The stage was set up much like the cover of Strange Trails, with faux trees set up throughout the stage. There was even an ominous audio element to their live set: a narrator described dark and sinister storylines multiple times during their set, establishing the noir ambience of Strange Trails within The Riverside.
Lord Huron’s music depends greatly on its audience “buying-in” to have its audience get the full connection, the Strange Trails Tour is a tour filled with Easter Eggs, from the crew’s leather jackets to the audio interludes. But in order for these Easter Eggs to be worthwhile, the final product must be polished and enjoyable, and while the crowd was undoubtedly more rowdy during songs from Lord Huron’s first LP, Lonesome Dreams, I’d find it hard to believe anyone left greatly disappointed. Lord Huron’s recent trip to Milwaukee only helped bolster the buzz around their name.
– Opening act Leon Bridges has everything in place for him to become an absolute star: a crooning voice, heart-melting charm and style, hype-based comparisons to soul singers like Al Green and Sam Cooke, and the backing of a sizable record label (Columbia).
– Bridges tells romantic stories in his songs: his hit single “Coming Home” is a song about faithfulness, and “Twistin’ & Groovin'” is destined to be his next big hit, a song he wrote as an homage to his grandfather: how the first thing he noticed about his wife (Bridges’ grandmother) was her long legs, the night they met at a party.
– Look for Leon Bridges debut album to be released this summer.
Until The Night Turns
Meet Me In The Woods
Dead Man’s Hand
Ghost On The Shore
She Lit A Fire
I Will Be Back One Day
Way Out There
The World Ender
Fool For Love
Ends Of The Earth
The Night We Met
Time To Run