It’s off to space and towards the Emerald Star for Lord Huron. It makes sense, given their rise over the years. Singer and guitarist Ben Schneider named off all the DC venues they’ve played to get to where they are now: DC9, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, and now their biggest show yet at a sold-out Anthem. They’ve grown immensely in popularity (“The Night We Met” was featured in the 2017 Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” and is currently their most popular song on Spotify with 222 million plays), and their latest album Vide Noir is a big musical leap for the LA-based band. Their live show is brimming with boundless energy, but with their latest album, that live energy has translated into intense tracks like “Ancient Names (Part II)” and “Secret of Life.” The underpinnings of their folk rock origins are still there, but with a cavalcade of new influences guiding them forward, they’re carving their own cosmic path in rock and roll.
Those that have been to a Lord Huron show in the past know that they’re an energetic bunch, and by opening their set with “Ancient Names (Part I),” they affirmed their arena-rock aspirations. The slick and stark bass lines, the loudly-beating snares, and the twinkling backdrops were practically made to wow huge crowds like The Anthem’s. Schneider excitedly strummed away at his acoustic guitar, but with the rest of the band turning it up to 11, his guitar was merely a bit player in the group’s exciting rendition of the song. Later in the set, they tore into “Ancient Names (Part II),” another electrifying highlight of the night for rock lovers, though maybe not for those that are bigger fans of their earlier work. Of course, they had something for fans of all entry points, including “We Went Wild” for those that have stuck with the band since their first EP. But as with their live version of “Fool for Love,” the song received a bit of an adrenaline boost with louder guitars and drums that are much more in-your-face than the album. Still though, starting the show with “Ancient Names” and ending it with the one-two-three punch of “The Night We Met,” a cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” and “We Went Wild” is apt: they may be musically heading off into the unknown, but they’ll never forget their earthly roots.
Vide Noir is available now through Republic Records.
Opening for Lord Huron was Los Angeles band Midnight Sister. Their set was a funhouse mirror of musical inspirations - vaudeville, rock musicals, Metallica, The Beatles, 10cc - that could have easily flipped from one sound to another in an instant. Singer Juliana Giraffe’s theatrics in her clown-like makeup was definitely an unexpected surprise for the masses awaiting Lord Huron to take the stage. They won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those that love 60s-70s-era pop and rock music as well as a bit of theatricality to their live shows should give Midnight Sister a try. Their debut album Saturn Over Sunset is out now on Jagjaguwar.