After a solid second album it is not surprising that Boy and Bear garnered a good-sized crowd at the ANU bar. Some well-chosen acoustic support acts helped warm up the crowd up, for the main act, which it must be said took a little while to get going.
Unfortunately the more the night went on, the more problematic the gig became. The first was not being able to drink while watching the band, which, typical of most of the problems, was not to do with Boy and Bear. Next came the crowd. A crowd is not a crowd if it does not dance, wave its arms, jump up and down, or sing along (have fun). As Boy and Bear are not the easiest band to dance to, you would expect the crowd to sing along, especially considering how successful Boy and Bear’s first album was. This was too much to ask. Upon scanning the front of the crowd, few to no mouths could be seen moving throughout most of the night.
Then there was the crowd calling out in between songs. You would expect not to hear football drinking songs at a folk-tinged gig, especially at a university, right? Unfortunately this assumption would have been wrong. Upon taking swigs of his beer, lead singer Dave Hosking had to endure, “here’s to… [blur]… he’s true blue,” on more than one occasion. It is no surprise that the people shouting out did not know the words. Of course this was handled with class and modesty from the talented young band, who managed to engage with the crowd well throughout the night, even if it was the drummer doing most of the talking.
So, what was good about Boy and Bear? Well, for the first gig of a tour the band was tight, and relaxed. This was even commented on by the band: “Man, I’ve forgotten how good this feels”. The last two songs, “Golden Jubilee” and “Feeding Line,” undoubtedly rocked the house, not least because they are Boy and Bear’s fastest songs (tempo is certainly one element of their live performance they need to play around with). The quality of sound was also great, except for the shaking windows that could clearly be heard from the other side of the room.
Any high points were usually due to a dynamic shift of some sort. “Part-Time Believer” was good because it was the first song of the night to have some groove on it, and “Milk and Sticks” and “Three Headed Woman” were also major highlights.