Because I am a pathetic hack, I have no photos from the show. All you need know is their mustaches were full, very very full.
Sunday, June 27, 2010 at The Space:
There's nothing like going to a show beat down from a weekend's worth of ass-busting labor, especially when you are fully aware that you'll be getting up for work at the butt crack of dawn Monday morning. Shaki Presents' Sunday night series was one of the rare excuses that could make someone like myself say fuck it and go out anyway. Bear in Heaven happens to be another. Showing up to find out the photographer didn't make it was no fun though. Missing Wess Meets West was not fun either. One of those guys once told me that they are going to open for U2 on the moon in the near future, so maybe I'll catch them then. I'm also guilty of missing the first half of Lobisomem's set, too, since I was loitering outside, joking around with everyone about dickheaded booking agencies, how much moths suck, and stealing The Space's owner's Dodge Dart.
Maybe the heat and humidity kept the show-goers at home. Who knows. But there was around fifty or so heads there at the most. It's tough when an audience is so sparse mainly because it leaves a live band without enough crowd-created energy to feed off of. Maybe this is even more true at The Space, a place that has a reputation for causing awkwardness for the crowds and bands alike. I wonder if it's also the fact that the booze-less-ness of The Space leaves everyone too damn self-conscious to enjoy the show. Us uptight hipsters are socially retarded, remember.
But what hindered Bear in Heaven was not the thin audience, it was that their live sound did not get its due. The room and The Space's PA were the reasons, which seem totally unsuited for bands that, instead of overdriving their amps or are intimate folk acts, rely primarily on running direct. Depending on where you stand in the room, it can be a completely different show. Getting too close to the stage means losing the fuller sound you get at the back of the room. And even then you kinda need to find a sweet spot, which was incidentally found to be closer to the merch table than over by the stairway to the bathroom.
Bear in Heaven live should be felt in your guts. They have a huge sound and are known for putting on intense performances. All limitations aside, they did sound pretty good, especially during the second half of their set. The smaller, more restrained performance turned into an opportunity to pay close attention to the band's musicianship. As a trio, they still achieve what they did as a four piece on Beast Rest Forth Mouth. The drummer is a fucking octopus, and I actually started feeling sorry for the sweat-drenched guy since most every song requires nonstop flailing. Guitarist Adam Wills might be a little underused, but I couldn't tell exactly who was making what sounds since they all intertwine so well to begin with. For all I know he was holding everything together. Jon Philpot uses an interesting setup of midi-interfaced knob tweak-age and a block of stomp boxes at his feet. His vocal tone was straight off the record, and it was great to hear him belt out the coda of Beast in Peace as intensely as it is on the recording. Jon and Adam share guitar and bass duties, switching between songs almost as often as Sebadoh does. It's one of my favorite parts of the band - they use all that electronic gear with the pretty blinking lights, but still use the basics just as much.
The two surprises in their set were an older song that they revamped to play as a three-piece but said they'd likely never play again. I didn't catch the name of it. The second surprise was what they closed with - a cover of the Lindstrøm & Christabelle track Lovesick which is off of Real Life Is No Cool. Short of that, their set was all the best from Beast Rest Forth Mouth.
Even it wasn't the show hoped for, Bear in Heaven impressed.