Bear In Heaven recently came though Chicago on their U.S. headline tour. You can check out our review of the tour after the break.
Bear in Heaven, have you ever heard of them? In my many years in the music industry, I always discover new bands and Bear in Heaven is one of them. What caught me off guard was the fact that they have been around since 2003 and have had 5 studio albums, so naturally I was very eager to hear them. Seeing as they had sold out Schuba’s Tavern and had to schedule the overflow of fans demanding a show, Bear in Heaven booked a second night and then proceeded to sell that out as well.
Schuba’s Tavern was a suitable fit for Bear in Heaven, a nice small bar and grille with a small vintage stage set in the back of the venue. The venue and stage area of Schuba’s looks like something pulled right out of a 70’s chapel. Every time I have been there, it has given off a warm and comforting feel, which is pretty rare to find in venues on the north side.
The opening bands for Bear in Heaven were definitely along the same lines as them but still on a different level. The first band, Doldrums, had more of a tribal electronic drum and bass feel to them, opposed to the dance inspired beats of Bear in Heaven. They were definitely one of the most interesting bands I have ever heard and probably the first of it’s genre for me to experience. With a ghostly essence along with primal beats mixed with an electronic base, Doldrums is a definite must to check out if you need to kick back and have a surreal experience.
Blouse on the other hand was completely different but still connected to the rest of the bands that night via indie electronic roots. Blouse reminds me of an 80’s sci-fi movie, Haunting vocal melodies, subtle dance inspired synth lines and thick bass lines. They definitely captivated the entire crowd and sent them into what I can only describe as a trace. After every song, the audience broke from that trance only to shed a round of applause on the band before they started their next encompassing song. Blouse is in my opinion a solid band and worth going out of your way to give them a listen.
The theme of the night was indie electronic and it was a decently calm and chill vibe all night long. It was a very nice atmosphere and pretty polar opposite of the past few shows I’ve attended. The “mosh pit” consisted of subtle heel stamping with trace amounts of swaying and head nodding, pretty intense stuff, I know. As the second band ended and started to break down their gear, the atmosphere started to gradually change as more and more people packed in to see Bear in Heaven. They had no roadies or extra hands to help them with equipment, I honestly thought that the band were the roadies to be totally honest. They don’t look like typical musicians, once I saw them take the stage I was a little bit dumbfounded and oddly excited to hear and see what was to come.
As the lead singer introduced them as Bear in Heaven, the widely varied crowd of concert goers started to become unsettled and eager to hear the first notes of the first song. I was astounded to see the variety of people at the show, not the typical crowd one would expect for a show of this genre. Once Bear in Heaven started playing I felt somewhat comfortable with the music but still a little off and trying to gauge if I liked it or not. With droning and dance inspired synth lines, the main focus was on the drums and bass. But the real show was the lead singer, Jon Philpot, who’s flamboyancy reminded me of William Defoe in the movie The Boondock Saints. The stage show was easily awkward but still I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. By the end of the night they had everyone in the crowd moving in some form or another and they had everyone including me shouting for more. Even some fans were asking for them to play a few songs for a second time. Bear in Heaven truly stood out that night and cured my skepticism of how good they really were as a band.
Information about the review…
Tour: Bear In Heaven Spring US Tour
Bands: Bear In Heaven, Blouse, and Doldrums
Reviewer: Jim Vondruska
Date: April 18, 2012
Venue: Schubas Tavern in Chicago, IL