Photo by Kate Meyer

This some totally weird, hippie, Nag Champa imagery, but I’ll stand by it: When Boy And Bear‘s lead man, Dave Hosking, really gets going with his singing/guitar-strumming combo, it looks like he’s riding on the back of a dolphin. Or at least that’s the kind of aqua vibe you get from the neck up, as he dips down forehead-first and then rolls his nose forward and up, moving his gaze to the ceiling. Hosking has this dreamy smile on his face when he does it, which probably means it’s an unconscious motion, and we all assume that means he’s completely Caught Up In The Moment.

The rest of the band—brothers Hart (Tim and Jon, drums and keys/mandolin respectively), Killian Gavin (guitar) and Jake Tarasenko (bass)—commence activities on stage looking similarly attentive. They’re suspended in their own little bubbles of liquid oxygen, each with their eyes closed at different times. Hart Brother Senior has some of the most intense egg shaker shaking ever to be exhibited; Hart Brother Junior is unknowingly beguiling to look at on the drums, like a hypnotized chicken—his body pummels about, but somehow, quite amazingly, he keeps his head almost completely still. All five members channel whatever is individually inside of them outward and press it all together into live Australian-style whitegum storytelling. Boy And Bear’s music is somberly beautiful, acoustics and harmonies resplendent with pregnant pauses on record that seem more meaningful IRL.

The quintet’s thoughtful debut LP, Moonfire, was released the day before, and the boys are having a good run for its launch in this largely apathetic town. They sold out their show the previous night (“You guys are much better behaved than the crowd at the Mercury Lounge,” Hosking says. We are unsure whether that is a compliment or a disparaging remark), and this crowd, while allegedly more muted, still sways and mouths the words, and reflects the same nobly Australian drover chic of the band. A guy at the front bargains with Hosking and offers him a beer in exchange for a song. “We’ve just had a request for ‘The Storm,'” Hosking says. “Let me see if I can remember how to play it.” The band obliges with a shrug, and Hosking gets his beer, later admitting to burping into a high note. If not for his own admission, we probably would have never noticed.

Photos of Boy And Bear at Mercury Lounge by Kate Meyer
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