Originally Posted At The Horn : Lee Ackerley
Brooklyn band Bear in Heaven came through Austin on Thursday night for a powerful show at the Parish. Weeknight and Young Magic opened.
Thursday night at the Parish was a quintessential display of a band that has shirked any attempt at creating a façade or forced band identity to let their music define themselves. Opening bands, Weeknight and Young Magic set the ethereal electro-mood for Bear in Heaven to emerge from, with Young Magic’s set being worth the price of admission alone. Young Magic are well-known as the openers for Purity Ring’s last tour and are pushing the boundaries of electro-pop, not unlike what Bear in Heaven’s intentions hone in on.
Although the Parish was only a little over half capacity, Bear In Heaven’s lead singer, Jon Philpot, stepped onto the stage to a high-energy atmosphere with a tangible sense of electricity in the air. A perfectionist in almost all facets of his performance, Jon’s vocals link into the songs with a surgeon’s precision. Bear in Heaven specializes in harnessing the gravity-defying electro-pop that has propelled a new crop of bands to popularity these past few years, and manipulating it like clay to include Philpot’s staccato vocals that build and blossom into orchestral masterpieces. The song “Autumn” off the new album stands out as sonic vortex of chanting, tachycardia-inducing drums, and sudden drop-offs that explode into vibrant plateaus of choral pleasure. Bear in Heaven can be likened to an Oasis-like Britpop band that was shot through a large Hadron collider into the psychedelic prism crystal on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moononly to land in Brian Wilson’s sandbox.
Bear in Heaven has launched itself into uncharted territory of artistic expression that translates flawlessly in their live show. The band brought out the hits off their previous album that has garnered them a relatively small but dedicated following. The melancholic drone of “Lovesick Teenagers” and bombastic “Kiss Me Crazy” had the crowd captivated, but it was the new material that made Thursday night’s show truly special.
Jon Philpot told the Austin crowd, “You guys live in a magic place. I guess that makes you magic.” Jon and his two band mates kept their mystery intact throughout the set as they defied convention to bring the crowd a purely original showcase of unclassifiable musical exploration. The set ended with the new track “You Don’t Need The World,” an earworm of a song that reverberated for hours after the show. It is Bear In Heaven’s humble demeanor in their stage presence that became the shining light that elevates this group above many of their self-obsessed peers who strain to fit into a certain archetype. In this free form authenticity, Bear In Heaven defines itself and finds identity.