Last Wednesday, August 10th, we got to check out Boy and Bear at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, New York. If you haven’t heard of this folkloric band from down under, you have plenty of time to catch up. We’ll start you off. Originally a solo project for lead vocalist and guitarist, Dave Hosking, Boy and Bear expanded their lineup in 2009 to include bassist, Jake Tarasenko, vocalist and guitarist, Killian Gavin, drummer and vocalist, Tim Hart and banjoist and keyboardist, Jon Hart. The Australian band has toured with the folk kings, Mumford & Sons, in 2010 and they also released their debut EP, “With Emperor Antarctica” within the same year. Since then, the quintet has been all over America, performing at South by Southwest, Lollapalooza and in New York City. After an American filled summer, the group dropped their debut album, “Moonfire”, on August 9th via Universal Records. That’s a wrap for the adventures of Boy and Bear for now. We speculate Boy and Bear won’t be home in Australia for too long; their hectic schedule is only just beginning.
We are basing the success of Boy and Bear, not only on the group’s eclectic tunes, but also their insatiable charm both on the stage and off. Boy and Bear just have it. The Australians are here to play music and the success that comes with this career is just an extra bonus. By pressing play on “Moonfire”, you can immediately sense the joy music brings them. When watching the group perform these tunes on stage, you are positively overwhelmed by an unexplainable surge of happiness that can turn the most rigid frown upside down.
For you, New York Shockya readers, who couldn’t attend Boy and Bear’s show, we’ll try our best to convey the aura these guys brought to The Knitting Factory. The quintet opened up the concert with the lead track off of “Moonfire”, “Lord May”. The crowd tightly gathered in front of the stage creating an intimate setting between them and Boy and Bear. With the mood set, Hosking’s deep vocals commanded the attention of the crowd, who stared at him in silence. The on point harmonizing of the other members helped create an overall sound that overpowered the small setting of The Knitting Factory. Right then and there, it was obvious Boy and Bear were stars in the making.
The Australian group continued to a play a set list mostly of tunes off of “Moonfire”. Whether or not these tracks were intended to read like stories, the folkloric music of Boy and Bear played like an open book. Our favorite “story” was that of the tune, “Part Time Believer”. While the band harmonized in a handful of their tunes, “Part Time Believer” was the most impeccable collaboration of them all. The band chimed in together during the chorus. The blending of their vocals softened the group’s sound and awakened another side of the band that was more passive and somber. This part of their personality caused a reaction above our skin, goose bumps. If you want to find out what inspired the track, just travel further down the page and check out Hosking’s answer in our video interview.
The power of the Boy and Bear is exuded from both ends, vocally and instrumentally. The members of the group are multi-talented and this facet of the band is undeniably recognized. Let’s take the track “Big Man”, for example. Bassist, Tarasenko, moved on over to the drums and drummer, Tim Hart, held onto the tambourine. Whether or not these musicians have a preference of one instrument over another, you simply cannot tell. Each played the instrument with as much vigor as they did with the other.
Amongst the instrumental sounds, the vocals, the group’s laidback attire, with some members even barefoot, the overall feel of Boy and Bear is best described as organic. The group doesn’t need any outlandish electronic devices to amp up their sound because it is already golden. We tend to consider debut albums to be a foundation for the group to build on. They are rough outlines of a sound we can expect to hear in the band’s future. Well, not surprisingly, Boy and Bear have broken the mold with their debut album. “Moonfire” is just the start for this quintet, but it is one hell of a beginning.
Remember to check out our video interview with Boy and Bear at The Knitting Factory below!
by Lonnie Nemiroff