Concert review: Lord Huron executes thrilling visuals, delivers dynamic performance
The 4-member band Lord Huron graced the stage of Hollywood Forever Cemetery Thursday night, joined by two other guests. With lights aglow, the desert-themed set transformed the night into one of life and death. (Vivian Xu/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Oct. 1, 2021 6:06 p.m.
Lord Huron is worshipping the dead.
In the indie rock band’s performance Thursday night, Hollywood Forever Cemetery was greeted by constant references to those who slumbered beneath its grounds. But for those listening on top of the grass, the concert was anything but a lullaby. Led by frontman Ben Schneider, the Los Angeles-based band transformed their repertoire of heart-filled serenades into an eclectic mix full of life.
With a tarped stage and timid yet tender opener Andy Shauf, the night began quietly. The black tarps around the edge and back of the stage were later uncovered, however, to reveal a desert landscape as Lord Huron’s performance drew closer. Complete with rolling hillsides and cacti, the set of monochrome gray looked less like a foundation for stunning visuals and more akin to bland gray camouflage.
But as the show commenced, the light began leaking in as the large semicircle, spanning the width of the stage, was backlit with soft white and orange light. The audience’s thirst for visual stimulation continued to be held at bay with Schneider’s opening, which was illuminated with two simple cones of white light. Yet as he completed “The Moon Doesn’t Mind” with a delicate flourish, the beams panned up and out to embrace the crowd.
Playful lighting continued as the stage suddenly blossomed into radiating pink while “Mine Forever” began with a lurch. The glowing arc, now clearly serving as the set’s sun, flashed in rose tones and remained a focal point throughout the concert. Each of the first several songs began in a similar fashion – with the prior track fading in volume and brightness just to begin again with sudden bass and colorful flashing lights – but the overuse of this maneuver felt cheap, and the audience was forced to wait for variety.
After the initial fast-paced succession, Schneider paused to welcome the crowd, apologizing for the lack of conversation as a result of the venue’s curfew. The four-member band – joined by two other musicians – then proceeded with their rapid-fire setlist, covering a dizzying array of songs across their entire discography with only a slight emphasis on its most recent album “Long Lost.”
More diverse than the song selection were the instruments used to accomplish their live performances. The three guitarists, including Schneider and his harmonica, quickly implemented a seemingly endless supply of guitars, both acoustic and electric, while bassist Miguel Briseño deftly alternated between bass guitar and string bass.
The dynamic execution extended to Schneider’s mobility, as he shook his mane, shimmied with pent-up emotion and illustrated lyrics with the occasional free hand. A seamless transition into “Wait by the River” called for the shedding of his guitar, however, as Schneider marched the microphone up and down the hills’ three constructed levels. He matched the pleading ballad with an earnest bounce and hands caressing the air, navigating the stage with quiet bravado. Cacti illuminated at his touch, and the song’s end found him confidently leaning against the highest mountain.
While casual references to death peppered the tracks, the first outright mention of the morbid location happened squarely in the middle of their set. Revealing the group’s dedication to generating a customized performance to engage the crowd, Schneider mentioned the possibility of other supernatural companions, inquiring, “Anybody getting spooked? Sometimes these fuckers just pop right out of the ground and spook ya.”
The ghost shoutout was immediately followed by a stunning shower of white light in “Love Me Like You Used To,” which confusingly contained no mention of the afterlife. But with time, Lord Huron’s frequent Western theme meshed effortlessly with the venue, as Schneider donned a skeleton mask to a backdrop of rattlesnakes.
Hauntingly realistic, the overlaid jaws of the skull moved in tandem with Schneider’s singing as the concert’s intensity peaked. The stage was impressively electrified with utter sonic and visual chaos as every color in the rainbow strobed, dance moves became frantically loose and each musician jammed furiously.
A tranquil plateau followed, and the band seemingly closed with carefully selected “Where Did The Time Go.” Solemn and reflective, the song concluded a powerful soundtrack tailored for the venue and arranged in harmony with the desert decor, as Schneider referenced “What Do It Mean,” declaring “May you live until you die.”
The night should have ended there, but the band played on with “Not Dead Yet,” matching the prior track’s macabre theme but not its temporal setting. And with an underwhelming encore, the concert dragged along and failed to match the earlier emotional heights. An understated rendition of “The Night We Met” was the sole standout, with drummer Mark Barry continuing his tenure as a hidden gem – at one point shaking two maracas in one hand and drumming with the other, all while a washboard hung from his neck.
And though their overly ambitious encore may have killed the vibe, Lord Huron is anything but lost.