Tag Archives: Islands


Bear’s Den Leave Them Wanting More at The Bowery Ballroom

February 2nd, 2017

Bear’s Den – The Bowery Ballroom – February 1, 2017

The British folk rock band Bear’s Den wrap gorgeous compositions with a searing banjo ribbon. It’s not a surprise that they supported fellow countrymen Mumford & Sons, as both share similar musical sensibilities. They’re also no strangers to road-tripping across America, having jumped in a Volkswagen Campervan to tour with Ben Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Staves in 2014. In support of their sophomore release, Red Earth & Pouring Rain, the lads played to a sold-out Bowery Ballroom on a crisp Wednesday night. The balcony was overflowing with spectators, as folks could barely get on the floor. Although the evening featured songs from the recent release, special attention was paid to the faithful when the rarely sung and mostly back-cataloged “Sophie” was played acoustically as the audience came to a hauling silence.

Band leader Andrew Davie admitted it was likely their “second-oldest song,” and fans, new and old, were grateful. They erupted for “When You Break,” a favorite from Bear’s Den debut, Islands. A pause in the set carved time for guitarist Christof to make his traditional bottle-flip attempt. The suspense was thick as the water bottle flew in the air, and Davie bear-hugged his bandmate upon success before wailing the sea shanty “Auld Wives.” Christof strapped on the banjo for another favorite, “Above the Clouds of Pompeii,” as clapping hands and stomping feet revved up the band before they exited the stage.

There was little doubt they would not return for an encore, and they did with horn accompaniment for “Napoleon.” Davie, bassist Kevin Jones and Christof made their way into the crowd with only instruments on an acoustic rendition of “Gabriel.” Back onstage, Davie explained that throughout their tour they have been playing covers that were of local artists or about the city they were in. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” checked off both those requirements. The evening wrapped up with the anthemic “Agape,” which was a fitting soundtrack to lead folks into the night and onto a new day. —Sharlene Chiu




The Both/Nick Diamonds – The Bowery Ballroom – April 29, 2014

April 30th, 2014

The Both - The Bowery Ballroom - April 29, 2014

Photos courtesy of Mina K

(The Both play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night.)


Islands – The Bowery Ballroom – October 20, 2013

October 21st, 2013

Photos courtesy of Mina K


They Always Entertain, No Matter What They Call Their Band

November 6th, 2009

Islands – The Bowery Ballroom – November 5, 2009

Islands - The Bowery Ballroom - November 5, 2009
The Unicorns were a surprising mix of indie-pop experimentation. They broke all kinds of rules, all while crafting funny, ridiculous, hypertwee adolescent pop. Their first album was a critical success, so they immediately disbanded to reform as th’ Corn Gangg, briefly playing hip-hop covers of Unicorns songs. Following another break up, they returned as Islands, which, as Nick Thorburn constantly reminds interviewers, are forever. Two members remain at the core of all of these projects: Thorburn and Jamie Thompson, whose tumultuous relationship has spawned some of the most endearing and innovative pop songs over the past 10 years.

Islands, known for their onstage theatrics, didn’t disappoint. Dressed in all white, almost Greek-influenced robes with head wreaths, Thorburn headed the forum with a James Brown-inspired, diamond-studded cape. Comfortable onstage, all through “Vapours” he stared down at fans, baptizing them with a push of his hand, swiping their beer or even picking up a notebook left on the edge of the stage and writing the owner a note. There’s an inherent sense of humor to their music that still comes from that experimental place of unorthodox instrumentation and clever lyrics. Who else could passionately deliver “Uncross my arms/To disarm the car bomb/It’s taking too long/Something must be wrong”? Islands are taking their playful formula further and further with each album, becoming more polished, and reintroducing synth and dance rhythms in pursuit of that perfect pop sound. Saving the best for last, they indulged the crowd with “Rough Gem,” which launched the Bowery crowd into a final frenzy of indie-rock proportions. —Jason Dean

Photos courtesy of Mina K