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A Wonderful Midweek Memory

January 28th, 2010

Bear in Heaven – Mercury Lounge – January 27, 2010

Bear in Heaven - Mercury Lounge - January 27, 2010
It takes a particular assemblage of circumstances to sell out a concert on a Wednesday. You need appealing bands, an inviting space and good timing. Last night at Mercury Lounge these ingredients came together to create a fantastic show. Headliner Bear in Heaven is three months removed from the release of their critically acclaimed second album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth. While they have steadily built a fan base with their anthemic electronic sound, Beast marks the band’s expansion into more accessible pop songs. And, from the looks of last night’s show, this sonic shift is paying dividends.

Openers ArpLine and the Jaguar Club led the talent-soaked quadruple bill. Both bands are based in Brooklyn and show potential, but ArpLine’s excellent guitar work and contagious energy especially caught my attention. (Check them out at their free record-release show at Brooklyn Bowl on February 17th.) Oh No Ono, a psychedelic quintet from Copenhagen, followed—their first show in New York City. The band, both in appearance and song, carries themselves as a ’60s/’70s rock-revival act. Each member seems to stylistically embody a rock star of old. Most notably, lead singer and guitarist Malthe Fischer sports a crazy curly hairdo that could confuse him with Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde. I thoroughly enjoyed Oh No Ono’s entire set, however their cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” clearly stood out. They captured Thom Yorke’s vocal part perfectly and added their own synth-heavy touch.

Bear in Heaven closed out the night with a tasty sampling of their catalog. The four-piece band, headed by frontman Jon Philpot, showcased their musical dexterity, constantly switching instruments and creating a full, rich sound. With the help of two female vocalists, the group ripped through their soon-to-be-classic take on youth angst, “Lovesick Teenagers,” followed by the rhythmically commanding “Beast in Peace.” As Bear in Heaven finished their set around midnight, Wednesday gave way to Thursday and the night’s performances solidified into a wonderful midweek memory. —Jared Levy

Photos courtesy of Jared Levy