Last night I headed along to Bodega to check out Australian indie rock-folk band Boy and Bear. These boys took over the place as soon as they walked on stage, they were charming performers with a stunning grasp on how to make good music and the crowd was sucked right in.
Boy and Bear plays a wonderful mix of sounds with perfection. The first section of their performance really showcased their rock sound. Tracks like Bridges and Rabbit Song had the dingy Bodega reverberating with a newfound energy. With impressive bass lines, intensive drum beats and twanging electric guitar the songs came alive on stage and for I second I forgot about the folk influence I usually associate with the group.
But that was soon fixed with tracks like Milk and Sticks and Harlequin Dream. In songs such as this, front man Dave Hosking shone. He was a confident performer, something I didn’t expect after reading an article that said he gets nervous on stage. His interaction with the audience was so refreshingly modest it made me smile the whole way through and I wished I was one of the lucky few right near the front of stage. He laughed about how close the crowd was to him as he talked to them in breaks between songs and even use ones phone to take a video of the band on stage during a song.
The group seemed ever so humble, they were obviously happy to be getting such a great response and it was really cool to see them acknowledge that without the arrogance we get from many artists these days.
The other element to their show was the softer more vocal focused songs. I had plenty of ‘close your eyes and soak it in’ moments during songs like A Moment’s Grace and Lordy May. The banjo came out, the tempo was slowed down and the group sang exquisitely. When all five of them sing together it has a chilling effect. The different tones in each of their voices compliment each other perfectly. It’s a real joy to hear five men sing in unison and Boy and Bear do it unbelievably well. When teamed up with their rock and folk influenced tracks and captivating lyrics it creates such a compelling sound.
Their magic is made even better thanks to electric guitarist Killian Gavin. What are already great songs become brilliant songs thanks to his fresh riffs and jaw-dropping blues-influence. Three Headed Woman took on a new life as Gavin busted out a grungy and energetic solo. When layered with harmonies it was truly glorious.
The lead single off their latest album Harlequin Dream was an obvious crowd favourite. As the band cranked into Southern Sun there wasn’t a face in the room without a smile on it. Everyone was clapping, dancing and singing along to the catchy folk tune.
But the real climax of the show came right in the middle of their set when they played their well-known cover of Crowded House anthem Fall At Your Feet. It was sung beautifully with a magnificent use of silence, pace and rhythm. Hosking’s vocals shone on their own only to be backed up with a spine-tingling quality when the others harmonized with him in the chorus. The song would’ve been an easy highlight of the concert on its own but the band managed to go one better when they unexpectedly but smoothly mashed it up with Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. They did it so elegantly that I think half the people in the crowd didn’t even realise the song had changed for an entire verse. It was genius.
Boy and Bear went out with a bang finishing with one of their first hits Feeding Line before taking on the softer track Big Man. It was the perfect finish to a fantastic gig to have a fast-paced rock song followed by a slowed-down more “sentimental” song as Hosking described it. Big Man was performed with a real passion which spread right across the crowd, it was a magic moment to finish on.
This band is yet to really crack the Kiwi music scene but I am confident in saying they aren’t far off. They’ve got all the star qualities and they know how to use them. A superb gig from Boy and Bear.