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Bowerbrids Bring the Breeze

October 13th, 2010

Bowerbirds – The Bowery Ballroom – October 12, 2010

Bowerbirds - The Bowery Ballroom - October 12, 2010
Seeing Bowerbirds at The Bowery Ballroom? How could one resist such syntactical synergy? It’d be like giving up the chance to see Radiohead at your local Radio Shack. The music Tuesday night was also very hard to resist. The ensemble from Raleigh, N.C., hit their stride with the third song, “Teeth,” bearing their own with a heady mix of acoustic guitar, accordion, marimba, plus a travel-size string section of a violin and viola. This is the type of band that grows on trees in Portland, Ore., but takes a different twist when rising out of North Carolina. They employed creative pacing with nonlinear flow of folk motifs—there was very little verse/chorus/verse to be heard. If you tried hard enough, you could dance to it, but most in the crowd were content to just sway along to the random breezes of the music.

Despite all the various permutations of instrumentation at their disposal, Bowerbirds’ real strength was Phil Moore’s and Beth Tacular’s vocals. On their own, they were very nice, but combined, they elevated to something special. It is a rare treat to listen to two voices join together like they were created to do so and that was the effect of their harmonies. The highlight of the set was “In Our Talons,” where those voices dancing over a string of dee dee dee dees elated the audience more than any combination of accordion, viola and bass drum ever could. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg