Gig review: The Antlers & Bear In Heaven, Annandale Hotel, 10/2/2011

Bear In Heaven @ Annandale Hotel. Pic: Sevana Ohandjanian

New York you saucy minx, you really know how to breed your bands, don’t you? If it wasn’t enough to have Brooklyn melancholic indie peddlers The Antlers on the lineup, you gave us your psych dance trio Bear In Heaven in a co-headliner that rated as one of the finest Laneway sideshows of the week.

Sherlock’s Daughter were captivatingly energetic, singer Tanya Horo’s voice resonating in the highs and subtly seductive in the lows. They’ve grown infinitely tighter as a band and their electro-tinged rock set the anticipation at high-pitch for the impending performances.

Considering The Antlers’ breakthrough record Hospice is a dense, emotionally draining heartbreaker of a concept album, it was refreshing that they’d tweaked elements of songs to fit the live experience. Opener Prologue ushered in a hushed reverence whilst Kettering left its indelible trace on our hearts as singer Peter Silberman thrashed and wailed with verve.

As layer upon layer of sound washed over us, the band became fiercer in their attack, commencing a deceptively slow intro to Bear before morphing into a screeching, ferocious beast with Silberman’s cries of ‘We’re too old’ seeming almost too fervent to fit the room. Wake was stunningly soft as it closed the set but it wasn’t long before the eight-minute opus bared its teeth with intense cries of ‘Don’t ever let anyone tell you you deserve that’ fading into toppling drums and guitar, left to reverberate in our ears. Like Hospice, they managed to be cathartic yet ultimately uplifting in their performance.

Many had attended the show for them only if the exodus of half the audience was to be noted post-set. Maybe those who left don’t like to dance or feel good or fall into a throbbing electronic trance – which is everything Bear In Heaven incited and more. Singer Jon Philpot’s voice dripped charisma, and his dance moves were nothing short of George Michael circa Wham levels of incredible.

Boldly pulling out crowd favourite Lovesick Teenagers early on, bodies began rocking to Adam Wills’ intimidating guitar riffs as Drug A Wheel lived up to its hazy name, transitioning perfectly after the chorus into You Do You. Having amply covered material from their own breakthrough album of ‘09, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, they turned to Lindstrom’s Lovesick in a cover that provoked cheers of delight. It was a gloriously concentrated synth assault, as Philpot cried ‘You don’t love me! You don’t love anything!’ over the tribal drum beat that had every head nodding and toe tapping in a smiling finish to an evening of New York’s finest who don’t quite fit the conventional indie box.

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