The members of Lord Huron appeared to be more like old-school models than musicians when they walked onto the Miller Lite stage for the Landmark Music Festival this Sunday. They arrived pristinely dressed, hair impeccably gelled, clothes clean and appearing to be straight out of the fifties. “Clean” may be the best adjective to describe Lord Huron’s performance: it weaved through pristinely-performed alterations of indie-pop-rock, from twangs of country-influenced sound to beach-rock bass lines. The group began with a folksy number; the lead singer, Ben Schneider, jammed out on his acoustic guitar á-la Mumford and Sons.
Unfortunately, this generic indie appearance hides much of Lord Huron’s off-stage quirkiness. Schneider, who began as an art director at a small company in Los Angeles, initially got his creative start with alternate reality storytelling games that he would put together in his free time. When his gaming projects fell through and his job was no longer satisfying, Schneider took some time off at Lake Huron (thus, the band name) in his native state of Michigan. While he was there, he began the visual and musical project that would become the LA-based group Lord Huron in 2010.
While the band has an intriguingly multifaceted backstory and supplementary mediums to their music, their set at Landmark was disappointingly lackluster. The band seemed to suffer from an inability to pin down one sub-genre of the indie-pop scene, bouncing between Johnny Cash influences and a more modern indie sound in a haphazard manner. Their songs and musical abilities were all good—great, even—but it is hard to comment beyond generic descriptors. The performance was fun, and band members would jam out with each other onstage as well as get the audience clapping. It was a fine festival performance.
Lord Huron’s set would suggest otherwise, but the band’s unique multimedia storytelling techniques and creative message deserve a deeper look. You can check out their website here, and a succinct backstory piece on Schneider’s artistry here.
It is best to look past the festival-indie-band facade to discover the real narrative abilities of this group and its leading man; Schneider and Lord Huron are better storytellers on the page than they are in person, at least in their latest Landmark performance.