ALIVE FROM WHISPERING PINES: EPISODE 2 OF 4 (VIRTUAL EVENT)
February 18, 2021
Returning for the second instalment of their pandemic-friendly live series, Lord Huron spent most of last night’s show playing fan requested songs. In the first episode, the option to call in and ask the colourful host, Tubs Tarbell, to make a song request was featured in such a way that it seemed to be more fitting with the campy nature of the show rather than a fundamental piece of it. Low and behold, episode two features not only the performances of requested songs, but these voice recordings from fans take centre stage.
Tarbell wastes no time cutting to the chase, and the kaleidoscopic transitions from episode one have been replaced with an old-timey answering machine – cassette tape and all. Each time PLAY is pressed, a fan announces themselves and the song they want to hear. This leads to a setlist of Huron’s most notable favourites, dominated by their standout record from 2015, Strange Trails.
But just because they are appealing to their fans, it doesn’t mean the songs can’t be switched up a little. The lively, chanting “Louisa” is turned into a mellow, oceanside tune. “Ancient Names Part 1” has its production untangled, and each instrument acts distinct in the stripped-down version, with bongos and flamenco-like strumming coasting through the starry visuals, once again overlaid by some superb editing chops. Even “The World Ender” brings thunderous drums and whistling electric guitars to a slow-down on an alternate rendition of the usually driving bridge. All in all, the setlist is more upbeat than the first go.
The band still takes time to slow down, however. They play an acoustic rendition of “I Will Be Back One Day” (after a fan claims it reminds him of his boyhood in Northern Michigan), and close the show with an ethereal, synth-laden version of “Frozen Pines”, whose performance is preceded by an emotional chorus of voice messages from fans who tell emotional tales of how the song’s themes of death remind them of someone from their past.
The sheer fact that Lord Huron can build an entire show on the back of their fans’ attachment to their songs (especially those that are not hit singles) is a testament to the commitment to their lore and the loyalty that naturally follows anyone who is hooked by their sound.
When the fans aren’t requesting songs, they’re asking the host questions that span from “are there multiple universes?” to “what type of whiskey do you drink?” And these questions are used as jumping off points to delve deeper into the next storyline Lord Huron attempts to paint with this project. And, whether initially intentional or not, Tarbell becomes less of a caricature host and now a main character in the story. It’s a wise choice considering the actor, Richard French, plays his role with undeniable conviction.
Viewers were also treated to a standout new song, “Mine Forever”, with an entire music video to go along with it. The sentiment clearly evoking Western films and other multimedia references from the 1960s, distorted to match Lord Huron’s twisted vision.
With their second instalment of “Alive…From Whispering Pines”, Lord Huron has taken full advantage of their multimedia funhouse to deliver more than the average band ever comes close to attempting. It certainly leaves viewers wanting more. Not to fret – the closing of the show also marked the release of the band’s new single, whose video can be viewed below in the meantime.