BAND OF HORSES + The Drones @ La Tulipe

By Kelly Pleau - 11/08/2007

After a long and brisk walk down Mont-Royal from Parc to Papineau, a friend and I turned the corner to arrive at La Tulipe. Heavy, droning rock clamoured from inside the theatre, through a thick black entrance door, over the lobby, and out into the cold street. The Drones were finishing up their set, increasing the crowd’s energy with a heavy hand that shakes you from somewhere underneath your feet. As I waited at the bar for a drink, manic strobe lighting offered an electrifying silhouetted view of the Australian foursome. Frontman, Gareth Liddiard, was throwing his body into the microphone while bass player, Fiona Kitschin, was posing herself moodily, her back towards the audience. Their set ended, and directly behind the sound and lighting technicians, we found a nice spot to sit. La Tulipe is one of my favourite venues. I love the tiered seating areas, which were cozily filled with chatty groups of people. The intimate standing area directly below the stage was also comfortably packed with an anticipating crowd.

I was disappointed to miss the opening act, Tyler Ramsay. He is the modest multi-instrumentalist from North Carolina, known to cover Nico’s “These Days” with his own silky blues vocals. He has been on tour with Band Of Horses, opening their shows and playing guitar with them on stage. Along with Ramsay, the roots-infused indie rock band from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, stepped onto the stage at 9:54 pm. Surrounded by an array of vintage and modern amplifiers, lead singer Ben Bridwell took a seat at his keyboard and let out a loud yelp before the band kicked off the show with a beautiful performance of “Monsters.” With a voice that could warm the hardest of hearts, Bridwell delivered the main line, cautioning, “if I get lost, it’s only for a little while.” The rest of the show was far from lost as the band delivered uplifting versions of their songs, old and new. With the first few lines of “Is There A Ghost?” the crowd was captured. Bridwell’s voice called out achingly, and although the lines repeat themselves on and on throughout the song, the energy behind it was not lost. "Funeral" won the audience, gaining the most excited applause of the night. Bridwell was brief between songs, if not slightly nervous, yet it all seemed to add to his quirky charm. Before the final song of their main set, he stated refreshingly, “this is our fake last song where we pretend to cut out, and then come back to play more,” which in fact, they did, and fittingly with “Part One (Savannah).” As the lighting girl in front of me twiddled with a fader on the dimmer board, Band Of Horses sang out to their Montreal fans under a soft and beating glow: “and i’ll love you always when we leave this place and drive back to Carolina.” But they weren’t going to leave us on a sappy note. A cover of Them Two’s “Am I A Good Man?” ended the show with some deep and grungy soul.