Words by Will Suter
Photos by Maia Stern
Bear Hands are on the peripheral of the Northeast college/Brooklyn movement of 2008. This movement is responsible for such fringe successes as Amazing Baby and Boy Crisis, nominal success in Passion Pit, actual world domination via MGMT and an iPod commercial (Chairlift). Bear Hands have been hanging out on said peripheral for the past 2 years or so. On Friday night I saw them for the 4th time in that time span.
I walked into The Studio at Webster Hall just as the band was taking stage, got a nine-dollar scotch & soda and took my spot in the middle of the crowd. It's a small stage with a low ceiling, which played to Bear Hands bassist Val Lopers' disadvantage. Loper normally stomps around stage with bass pointed upward and sometimes swinging around his chest. No such luck this time. The band on a whole was pretty stationary, maybe because of constricting conditions. The only movement on lead singer Dylan Rau’s part was in between songs as he was slugging a bottle of Jameson. He’s got some great lyrics and was able to sing with more and more conviction as the set continued on.
The band doesn't seem to have too deep of a catalogue of songs to choose from yet and I think they threw mostly every song they've got into this set. Older songs such as "Golden" and "Long Lean Queen" hit well while some of the (brand) new stuff left the crowd wondering. What appears to be the new single "What A Drag" has a sick hook and tag-line "dreamin' of your goddamn long nails", but fails to fully deliver in the live spectrum. The show felt like a straight up showcase or maybe tune-up for their upcoming dates with Hockey and Passion Pit in the UK.
I’ve followed their young career for a good period of time and admire their patience and the effort they’ve put in as a band. While they haven’t seen immediate mainstream success as some of their Brooklyn contemporaries, it seems like they’re poised to have a strong 2009. As their MySpace states “Bear Hands formed in Aug 2006. They’re doing the best they can.”