Boy & Bear: “Cause the love that keeps me sane, Is killing me all the same”

Boy & Bear– Village Underground (Feb 25, 2014)

Aside from Augustines and Wild CubBoy & Bear make the cut as one top new bands I saw live in 2014. Boy & Bear KIIIIIIILED IT a few months back at their SOLD OUT Village Underground gig. They played a hearty set of 16 songs, the first of which was MY FAVORITE: Three Headed Woman

“Cause the love that keeps me sane, is killing me all the same
It’s killing me, it’s killing me oh….
It’s just one of those days, I can’t stop thinking
I’m as heavy as my hangover, and I woke up in a sweat

Cause I’m aware of consequence,
and I’m aware of pain now too.” (YES. Line KILLS ME every time).

Another favorite from the set (also on their new album , Harlequin Dream) was Old Town Blues, and it was really fun to watch Dave embrace his lil’ dance solo (guitar free song) while trying to keep a straight face. It kept me smiling the whole time. I really love the last verse of lyrics when he talks about wanting to teach his kids how to love. I noticed that he sings about kids in a few of his songs even though he doesn’t have any of his own (but Tim of course joked that he had like 5):

“Cos I wanna be an old man too
I wanna be a role model to my kids
I wanna teach them how to love
But you gotta show me how to live.”

Another one I really enjoyed was Bridges, and the last line in the intro verse always makes me laugh:

“Get up and dance girl
I’m in a rock and roll band
That makes me more of a man
Didn’t you know?..” (love this)

The encore of Southern Sun (no surprise) fired everyone up and had us “losing out mind out there.” SO GOOD. I’m sad I wasn’t able to capture this one in full…JUS missed my favorite verse:

“I saw the light from a kettle gun
Sixteen days under a southern sun
And there were times when I thought that
I wouldn’t mind it if I lost my mind out there…”

Even with a few of my other favorites (Blood to Gold, Mexican Mavis) missing from the set, the whole gig still PACKED A PUNCH. This band is ACE and both albums are stacked. I am so thankful that my friend from Melbourne (Cara) recommended them to me a few year back!  

 

VIDEOS:

Southern Sun:

Bridges:

A Moment’s Grace:

Back Down the Black:

Old Town Blues:

Harlequin Dream:

Three Headed Woman:     (one of my favorites!)

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den: “I didn’t know when I started runnin’…I’d be runnin’ my whole life.”

Bear’s Den– Nice N’ Sleazys, Glasgow

(Feb 10, 2013)

I first saw this London-based indie/folk trio (Andrew Davie, Kev Jones, Joey Haynes) with my friend Mairi at a popular, tiny venue in Glasgow called Nice N’ Sleazy’s. We we pretty much ON STAGE for that gig (super close up), and simply mesmerized by their beautiful folk ballads, especially Bad BloodPompeiiA Year Ago Today, and Don’t Let the Sun Steal Your Heart Away. When I first heard Bad Blood that night, I knew it would become one of those few (and very powerful) LIFE ANTHEMS that I would revisit on a regular basis. An then to later hear a stripped down reincarnation of it at the Village Underground (see video below) with no amps or mics was pure divinity. Brutally honest lyrics that I can remember always remember in a heartbeat: “Forgive me for I am not acting myself, I’m just trying to rid all this bad blood. All this baaaaad blood.” 

It was at this Glasgow gig that I first met the Bear’s Den drummer, Kevin Jones, who also happens to be the founder of the record label and music community Communion (along with Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons). I saw him again at their next London gig (St. Stephen’s Church) a month later and ended up sitting next to his cousin! Haha. It really is a small world when you consider the loyal fan base of many UK bred bands. 

I later went on to see Bear’s Den SIX more times, my favorite gig being the one at Village Underground. This was right after the release of their new EP, ‘Sahara,’ and  the title track was my anthem for a good month. Sooooooo freaking good. Opening as a slow, mournful ballad, this song suddenly breaks out into a joyful, folk-drive shuffle that oozes all sorts of empowerment. YES. Hands down my favorite track on the new Bear’s Den EP, ‘Without/Within.’

“All of my life
I wasn’t honest enough
and I thought I would never get over you.
I’ll never get over you.

You said that I’d always feel alone
Well it’s the life that I chose
You said I could never be happy with anyone
Well I found looooove. 
I found looooooove.”

I saw this gig was my friend Belle, another music junkie who had first spotted the incredible talent of Andrew Davie when he was the frontman for a Cherbourg in 2010. Again, SMALL WORLD! Good music doesn’t just come and go. It sneaks back up on you with a vengeance! 😉

Here are some of my favorite Bear’s Den lyrics that still slay (or claw) me:

“Sever the ties, Cut me up. Fill up the hole that I tried and I tried and I tried to fill.         
Forgive me for I am not acting myself, but these B’s in my breath have to come out…
I’m just trying to drain all this bad blood. All this baaaaad blood.”   (soooo good)
*

“Don’t let the sun steal you away,
Don’t let your mind speak louder than your heart.”  –Don’t Let the Sun Steal Your Heart Away

*

“I didn’t know when I started runnin’
I’d be runnin’ my whole life.”  –Sophie
(very relevant to my  nomadic postdoc life right now)

*

Check out the live videos and pictures of the SEVEN  (insane, I know) Bear’s Den gigs I’ve seen (Nice N’ Sleazys, St. Stephen’s Church, Great Escape, Bushstock, Village Underground, Green Man, Electric Brixton). You need to see these BEARS then they come GROWLIN’ INTO YOUR TOWN. 🙂

 VIDEOS:

Brother:

Hard Life:

Stubborn Beast:

Pompeii:

Don’t Let the Sun Steal Your Heat Away:

Isaac:

The Writing’s On The Wall:

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– St. Stephen’s Church, London (March 20, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Bad Blood:

 PICTURES:

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Getting myself in the BEAR DEN.  😉

Bear’s Den– Great Escape (May 18, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Bad Blood:

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Bushstock (June 1, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Davy (new song?):

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Green Man (May 18, 2013)

Motherhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jqn-wG2-fIg

Isaachttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qypTDZGHvSU

Bad Bloodhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXdNJyQwUyM

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Village Underground (Nov 6, 2013)

 VIDEOS:

Sophie:

Writings On The Wall:

Sahara II:

Bad Blood:

PICTURES:

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Bear’s Den– Brixton Electric (May 13, 2013)

 

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Half Moon Run- “She wants to know just who I am…She can make you work for the worth that she has”

Half Moon Run– Rough Trade, London

(January 31, 2013)

Half Moon Run (my favorite new disocvery of 2013) is a talented young band from Canada that was born out of hardships/desperation in Montreal’s Mile-End district. The original trio (now quartet) were motivated to create a unique sound restless indie, pop and folk layered with beautiful rhythmic harmonies, delicate guitar lines and subtle electronica.

Devon Portielje’s remarkable voice is beautifully backed up by Connor Molander and Dylan Phillips. Phillips often plays drums and keys simultaneously as Molander and Portielje shuffle between guitar, keys, samplers, and percussion. Just last year (2013), picked up a 4th member, multi-instrumentlist Isaac Symonds, who adds vocals, guitar, mandolin, keyboards and percussion. Altogether, the create a soundscape of folk harmonies with psychedelic arrangements and a hint of Radiohead-esque electronica. The selling point for me was when they used TRIPLE DRUMS (staggered “hocketing” style) for their huge hit, ‘Call Me in the Afternoon.’  The only other bands I have seen do triple drums since then are The Boxer Rebellion (song called ‘New York’) and Wild Cub (song called ‘Thunder Clatter’). I am STILL LEVITATING from their performance at Village Underground (first time I saw them), and had to see them THREE MORE TIMES (Green Man, O2 Shepard’s Bush, Rough Trade East) when they were touring through the UK that same year.

They are just an insanely talented musicians with siiiiiiick stage presence and dramatic gestures that ooze all sort of sexiness. They seem SO COMFORTABLE with the crowd (always engaging with us), and it might have something to do with the fact that they toured for a few years in Canada before they came over here to play.  And there are so many layers of sounds that I never know what beat to move my body to! It’s hard to pick favorites, but I must say that Call Me In the Afternoon, She Wants to Know, Give Up, Judgement, Full Circle, Fire Escape, and 21 Gun Salute are on the top. I also really enjoy their acoustic, folk-driven cover of Pink Mountaintop‘s Creature, which they always save for the end and bring a wooden board out on stage to create fierce, feverish STOMPS. Plus, it’s one of the only songs they whip out the lovely mandolin for.

It happened to be CRAZY ODDS that my FAVORITE NEW BAND of 2013 (Half Moon Run) were playing ON MY BIRTHDAY (see videos/pics of the O2 Shepard’s Bush gig in November). Very lucky lady indeed! My head was BOBBING AROUND non-stop (like a true Bobblehead) from all the hypnotic beats, seductive guitar lines, and sexy vocals. Restless elements of indie, pop, & folk fused together to create an irresistible sound. Not to mention that they could basically win an academy award for their animation on stage. Devon (lead vocals) was SLAYING HIS GUITAR so hard that he actually CUT HIS FINGERS on the strings and continued to play with BLOOD SMEARING ALL ACROSS THE SHAFT. That’s DIE HARD right there, and I was right in front to see it unfold before my eyes. 

In the end, I was VERY LUCKY to have met these magic makers (see pic of me and Devon below) at both Green Man and Rough Trade East, and I CAN’T WAIT to see them again when they play the British Summertime Festival at Hyde park this Saturday (July 12, 2014) with Neil Young, The National, Tom Odell, and Lucy Rose.

VIDEOS:

21 Guns Salute:

Judgement:

Unofferable:

Call Me in the Afternoon:

She Wants to Know:

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run– O2 Shepard’s Bush Empire, London

(Nov 18, 2103)

BEST BIRTHDAY TREAT EVER!!! Front & center for my FAVORITE NEW BAND OF 2103. ❤

VIDEOS:

Turn Your Love:

Unofferable:

Need it:

Give Up:

Full Circle:

She Wants to Know (beginning):

Vampire (Pink Mountaintop cover):

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run– Green Man, Wales (Aug 18, 2103)

VIDEOS:

Full Circle:

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run– Village Underground, London

(June 25, 2013)

VIDEOS:

Call me in the Afternoon:   (MY FAVORITE!)

Nerve:

Judgement:

Drug You:

Give Up:

She Wants to Know:

Vampire (Pink Mountain cover):

PICTURES:

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Junip- “Let these moments last…Could be gone so fast…Walking Lightly”

Junip– Village Underground, London

(May 13, 2013)

Ever since first hearing ‘Heartbeats‘, ‘Crosses‘, and ‘Killing for Love,’ over two year ago, I had been anxiously waiting to see Jose Gonzalez IN THE FLESH. Jose has always reminded me of a mix between Paul Simon and Cat Stevens, but with a bit of soemthing extra (something EXTRA SPECIAL). Having just released a new album  (Junip) in April 2103, I was MESMERIZED by all of the new songs played by Jose Gonzalez and his incredibly intoxicating Swedish folk/indie band (Junip) at the Village Underground in London. ‘Walking Lightly,’ ‘Your Life, your Call,’ ‘So Clear,’ and ‘ LINE OF FIRE‘ (especially) were my favorites of the new album, and I’m so glad I was able to get some of them on video (see below). Line of Fire gripped me with such a firm grasp that could NOT STOP listening to it for a good month thereafter, hence it being the title track to one of my playlists: https://beatsthatsetmypulse.wordpress.com/line-of-fire/. Although the lyrics bleed with desperation and despair (“What would you say, if you had to leave today?…leave everything behind…even though for once, you’re shining”), Jose’s calming, tranquil vocals somehow leave you feeling revived:

“Convince yourself
someone else
and fight from the world
your lack of confidence.
What you choose to believe in

….

No one else around you
no one to understand you
no one to hear your calls.
Look through all your dark corners
you’re backed up against the wall
step back from the line of fire.” 

Even amidst the dark undercurrents of the album, there were waves of optimism to keep us afloat. The dizzying trance of he organ and guitar have you shouting the chorus (“STEP BACK FROM THE LINE OF FIRE”) with Jose midway through, and you can’t help but feel resurrected by the end.

Another favorite from the new album that also struck a deep chord and helped levitate my wood was ‘Walking Lightly.’ The bubbly effervescent feeling of the intro (woodblocks, keyboards) makes feel like I am walking on air, and that I am a weightless being…just a passing shadow. Singing along with the lyrics helped me embrace my recent nomadic (living abroad and trying to explore as many countries as possible), because life does offer many fleeting opportunities that we many never get back:

“We’re all walking lightly
We’re all walking lightly
Let these moments last
Could be gone so fast   (TRUTH BE TOLD)

Walking lightly…”

Thrown into the mix of these new songs were some oldie but goodies, especially ‘Without You,’ for which I really enjoyed watching Jose’s adroit guitar work and the synchronized buildup of the guitar and keyboard.

So Clear‘ and ‘Your Life, Your Call‘ stood out as other gems from Junip’s new collection and I was again gripped by the tension (“Wherever you look, it’s always the same…So many people, and the same game”) in ‘So Clear,’ an propelled to join along when Jose sings the chorus (“If it’s alright with you, Then it’s alright with me,…And I feel so clear”). ‘Your Life, Your Call’ is a perfect follow-upto ‘So Clear,’ and triggers the realization life should not be wasted lamenting over regret or falling victim to situations which we have the power to change:

“It’s your life, it’s your call
Stand up or enjoy your fall
It’s your life, it’s your call
Stand up or enjoy your fall

Pull yourself together
Draw the line.”  

Not only did Jose Gonzales (of Junip) help us “step away from the line of fire” and convince us to start “walking lightly” by the end, but his single for the Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie had us “step outside…and leave it all behind.” ❤

VIDEOS:

Walking Lightly:

Without You:

Black Refuge:

Far Away:

Your Life, Your Call:

Always:

Tide:   (encore)

PICTURES:

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