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June 21: Woody West Limited Edition

Ben Kendall 2011-06-22

Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell (left) and guitarist Tyler Ramsey (right)<br />
Image:L. Genborg
Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell (left) and guitarist Tyler Ramsey (right)

Review. Woody West's new summer festival is not a one off event. The setup and venue may change, but it will be back next year, according to organizer Johan "Red Top" Larsson.

The festival, which has been promoted as a pre-party for Way out West, premiered on Tuesday night at Trädgårn. Bands of Horses, which last year sold out the same venue (1000 tickets) in only eight minutes, is undoubtedly the main draw card of the nine band lineup.

Performing solo Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat is the first act to take to the outdoor stage. She is bubbly, pleasant and has a big voice. Playing mostly fast-paced country folk songs, she moves between the guitar, ukulele, keyboard and autoharp. Despite at times being a little bit hectic, on the whole she was good entertainment for the large crowd.

Dylan LeBlanc is only about 20-years-old and already his debut album has drawn comparisons with Neil Young. He also played a well-received solo show at Pustervik last autumn. This time in he brings his full band, a six piece. He plays immediately after Basia, but on the large indoor stage. He fills the room.

LeBlanc's music is somber and has a real country edge. Although I struggle to hear what he is singing about his and the band's performance is impressive. A nice whining voice, good harmonies and quality outbursts of bluesy-rock with some fine guitar work. The only shame is I have to leave before he has finished his set - the outdoor stage is filling up fast for Band of Horses.

This band has a cracking live formula; amazing vocals, a likeable frontman and a posse of quality country-indie musicians. Opening with Ode to the LRC, Band of Horses are in fine form. For about an hour and a half they jump back and forth between songs from their first two albums as well as last year's release Infinite Arms. There is even space for a newie. However, I think the band enjoyed this more than their large and loyal crowd.

Throughout the set there are loads of highlights including the opener, Laredo, Cigarettes Wedding Bands and The Great Salt Lake. The only moments of "averageness" are NW Apartment and the huge toilet queue that followed their set.

This means I miss most of American Marques Toliver, but what I do see is interesting. Again, strong vocals and big melodies are a feature, and he also plays a mean violin.

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