Band of Horses Lee’s Palace, Toronto ON August 11

In just over a year, Seattle’s Band of Horses have gone from being ignorantly passed off as My Morning Jacket wannabes to selling out a 600 capacity venue filled with screaming fans singing along to every word. While their popularity may surprise some, the strength of their debut album Everything All the Time is all the justification they need. Now one of Sub Pop’s premiere acts, they entered the T-dot to give a sneak preview of songs from their second album, the just-as-solid Cease to Begin. Front-man Ben Bridwell stepped on stage sporting an impressive, almost suspect beard, and the band wasted no time launching right into a set that went back and forth between albums, keeping a steady mood at hand all night. Slow burners like “The First Song” and “Part One” were interspersed with “Wicked Gil” and standout new song “Is There A Ghost,” which doesn’t say much lyrically, but gets a heavy lift from the combination of Bridwell’s soaring voice and the band’s commanding guitars. The bashful Bridwell kept the interaction to a minimum, appearing overwhelmed by the exuberant response. When they strummed the opening notes to “The Funeral,” it was obvious the band had found their calling card; the girls swooned, the guys nodded their heads to the beat dramatically and for that one moment the band were untouchable. The softness of “No One’s Gonna Love You” may have been a little too fresh for some ears, but when Bridwell grabbed a bass for the three-man, guitar-less performance of “Our Swords,” attentions were pointed directly at the stage. Sadly, no Hall & Oates cover this time, but newbie “The General Specific” lifted the late hours with a front-porch stomp, and leaving the crowd with an advisory of not to “get fucked on a Tuesday” was just the words this elated crowd needed to hear for the drunken trip home.