Yesterday, up-and-coming Australian band Boy and Bear played a session for a packed house at the Radio Milwaukee Studio. Operating in the highly-populated indie-folk realm, you would think it would take a lot to make Boy and Bear stand out, but it was no surprise why these guys have become recognized. Their live set boasted a naturally fresh sound that carried the listeners on a glossy journey through three tracks off their second release, Harlequin Dream.
Boy and Bear’s music thrives on a classic sound infused into a dreamy folk-alt hybrid: spacious and easygoing, but anchored by familiar rock language. Right from the start, the flannel-and-denim clad group charmed the audience with their warm harmonies, big choruses, and down-home energy. Far from jaded, the five members of Boy and Bear didn’t hide the fact that they weren’t about taking themselves too seriously. Lead vocalist David Hosking, guitarist Killian Gavin, drummer Tim Hart, keyboardist Jonathan Hart, and bassist David Symes share a camaraderie as delightful as their music: they poked gentle fun at each other during their banter between songs, sharing belly laughs with the audience.
Of course, they concluded their session with the much-loved track “Southern Sun.” In “Southern Sun,” the soaring chorus is so easy to sing along to that I caught myself multiple times mouthing the words while taking pictures during the show. The song’s irresistibly lush backdrop and overall vision is so accessible that you find yourself enjoying it so much more than expected, partly for its subtly anthemic quality and partly for the pleasant surprises it holds in its layers and its lyrics.
Overall, Boy and Bear’s studio session was both pleasantly familiar and stunningly refreshing, but wholly impressive. If you went to Boy and Bear’s show at Turner Hall last night, let us know what you thought!