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Concert Review: The Bowerbirds in Providence, RI (12/1/2009)

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With this tour comes new pressures — for one, a bigger showcase — but best of all, as Phil Moore of the Bowerbirds says, "It's kind of like a dream" opening for Elvis Perkins In Dearland. As two of Elvis Perkins' biggest fans, it's no surprise that Beth Tacular and Phil Moore of the Bowerbirds are obliged and mystical about touring with them.

And so here we are in Providence at Hi Hat, a quaint yet classy restaurant — just the right venue for an indie dinner show. The nu-folk branded couple, Tacular and Moore — along with their revolving percussionists and appealing rustic tones — played through an old Fender amp, its screen ripped right through with a microphone hanging over the top. Playing half the set, Moore provoked the duo's airy sound from a '60s Gibson guitar that may have as well have been as classic as their sound itself. [Added female vocals with the accordion for special harmonizing.] To set behind Phil Moores' crippling desert voice, speaking in tongues to the fact that they haven't much going on up there, just the simplistic nature that is rather in tuned to their meaning.

The lyrics are rather obscure, if you live in a city that is. But if you've been locked out in the woods somewhere in the nature of North Carolina (where the Bowers reside in a self-built cabin), you might actually know what these two are singing about. Then again, you might not. In a way, the simplicity of the songs makes you look almost too deep to understand them. Searching for meaning behind the rhythm and the accordion-esque classic persona that perceives its organic crisp. Much in the same way we can group bands like Animal Collective, Megafuan, and Bon Iver, the Bowerbirds are accompanied by a sort of noise, some certain instrument of sound that gets you feeling like you're lost in the forest, falling in love with a tree. Such isn't to say that their second album, Upper Air, isn't every bit as hippie-ish as it may come across; it's just very in touch with a natural side of music and in the surrealism that Bowerbirds embody.

The bold hits off of Upper Air and Hymns for Dark Horse are putting the Bowers on the indie-ladder, slowly, but certainly climbing their way up, respectively. Their song, "In Our Talons," from Hymns for a Dark Horse, is a wide variety type of tune, one that comes across as hard to cling too, but easy to love.

Then you have "Northern Lights", from their new album Upper Air, in which a rather somber story is told throughout the lyrics. When I sat down with Phil to discuss the album, he stated "It was super difficult right at first for us to collaborate, because of the animosity behind it, but it gets to a point where it becomes its own entity, it becomes kind of this document of this time, these emotions were totally felt". And there you have it, a love song written as true as it is, harsh and heartfelt, just oozing with emotion. "Northern Lights" is a true gem of a song because of that.

The band has a set of personal beliefs that you may or may not connect with, but they are not reaching out for you to so much join them, they just want you to pay attention. It maybe there is more going on out there than electric guitars and kick drums. Don't just hug a tree, respect it. Don't look too deeply into the music, because as you can tell with songs such as "Silver Clouds" and "Crooked Lust", all it takes is a bit of perspective measures to come across feeling like you want to know more. Listen more intently and close your eyes. Don't let the music make everything, let your imagination and it's beautiful imagery take a hold.

Without actually comparing the eclectic musings of actual music and while putting them beside such artists as The Weepies; they're a couple sharing in the best of themselves through their music. Where it almost seems as if it wouldn't be as great as it is without the love of Beth and Phil to carry it out.

The band is so unbelievably down to earth. After their set, they took time out to take pictures with fans, and carry-on conversations with them as friends, not strangers. Just speaking with them gave me the inclination that I was talking with a band that wasn't that big, but even if they were they still might not even realize they were as big as they are. I like that kind of poise in people, honestly it's comforting, and makes me want to buy records — and tell all of my friends. So kudos to the Bowerbirds, I believe they have touched on something that is in rare form these days. The natural character of love throughout music.

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