Boy & Bear live at Enmore Theatre, Sydney
- By Shannon Andreucci -
- Nov 18, 2011
The sole mission of a support band is to fill in time and warm up the crowd for the headliner. It’s a lucky dip really; sometimes the up-and-coming act will successfully elate and entertain you, and other times it will make you contemplate lacerating your ears and crawling into bed. Ball Park Music certainly fitted into the first category when they opened for rising Sydney stars Boy & Bear last week.
Not only is their indie pop music bursting with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, but their animated stage presence and comical banter with the crowd also makes for a blistering live show, one that they’ve garnered a good reputation for around the country. Front man Sam Cromack’s dancing feats are also a sight well worth seeing. With daring back bends, pelvic gyrations and a salute to the lonely hearts that “haven’t been f*cked in a while”, the crowd was more than warmed up, they were burning up like a damn furnace! The Brisbane–based sextet delighted the crowd with an array of jovial, dance-friendly tunes from their debut album ‘Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs’ including; ‘Shithause’, ‘Alligator’, ‘All I Want Is You’ and songs about murdering your ex-girlfriend. But nothing incited more applause and jumping hipsters than ‘It’s Nice To Be Alive’.
In all honesty, I could have gone home sonically satisfied by the brief yet engrossing set Ball Park Music dished out. But alas, it was Boy & Bear that the sold-out audience came to witness and I sure am glad I stuck around for it. The first thing I noticed was the drum kit positioned at the forefront of the stage; a nice touch. The second thing was the cello and violin; the indie-folk band’s debut use of strings at a live show. And the third was Dave Hosking’s darling smile (believe me, I wasn’t the only one to note this). Out of his lungs glided a soulful, velvety voice with opening song ‘My Only One’ and out of the crowd’s lungs, a symphony of roars erupted in response.
Boy & Bear’s signature barn-dancing pop sound soon emerged with the likes of ‘Milk And Sticks’ and ‘Mexican Mavis’, whose percussive beats and hints of hooting and hollering filled the Enmore Theatre with a country jamboree vibe. It was extraordinary to see how many people had the lyrics pat down for each song, particularly those from the highly acclaimed debut release ‘Moonfire’.
The musical circus was stripped back quite a bit for the endearing ballad ‘Lordy May’ and a radiant cover of Crowded House’s hit ‘Fall At Your Feet’. Hosking’s vulnerable yet powerful voice was a perfect fit for this emotive track and the band built up to a harmonious climax that had the entire venue participating in a mass karaoke session. Neil Finn, you may have some competition.
Since the audience was positively buzzing from this triumphant trip down memory lane, it was an ideal time to launch into ‘Golden Jubilee’, another heel kicking, hillbilly track that had everyone praising the gospel of Boy & Bear. Though their folk-drenched sound has often been described as a fusion of Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons, there’s no doubt they’ve enjoyed success here in Australia with sold-out shows across the country and a debut album that receives constant airplay.
The celebratory set came to a close with the latest single ‘Part Time Believer’ and ‘Big Man’, which the band invited opening acts Ball Park Music and The Paper Kites to whistle, sing, clap and shake tambourines in. Before the crowd even got the chance to lose their voices and stomp their feet for an encore, the band made a surprising yet very admirable announcement that they did not believe in doing such things. “We think it’s kind of lame and we don’t want to keep you waiting”, said Hosking before launching into the very last song of the evening ‘Feeding Line’. So it’s official; you’ll never have to endure an elitist, predictable and cringe-worthy encore when at a Boy & Bear gig. Perhaps other bands should take a leaf out of their book hey?!
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