Saturday, September 5, 2009

A New Obsession

Do yourself a favor: meet Pearl and the Beard (even if it's not in person for now). Listen to their music, be awe-inspired, fall in love. As one of the opening acts for Tiger City last night at Mercury Lounge, this trio was the very definition of a hard act to follow.
About half the crowd (and it sure was crowded) raised their hands to express that it was their first time seeing this gem of a band, consisting of Jocelyn Mackenzie, Jeremy Styles, and Emily Hope Price. The band is headed off on what they call the "Raise Your Glasses Tour" (as in eyeglasses, spectacles, if you will) and at its mention, they all, as if on cue, lifted their eyeglasses from their eyes. But not to worry, they will be back and playing here at home later in the fall (October 27th at Joe's Pub).

The Brooklyn-based band has a dynamic sound, layered with guitars, a cello, a variety of percussive elements (including hands and feet), an accordion, a glockenspiel, a melodica. Basically, you name it, these three play it. And on top it all they have composed beautiful harmonies, perfectly in sync, orchestrated with the precision of a concerto. Their talent is also apparent in the fact that one song sounds quite different from the next; from slow and languid ballads to poppy crowd-pleasers to crooning, passionate anthems. From a song featuring six or seven rotating instruments to one that was entirely vocals and percussion, building from claps and stomps to drums and shouts.

What makes these two girls and a guy a hard act to follow, in addition to just some great listening, is the overt sense of play they have together on stage. Their energy and passion is infectious and you only wish you could have as much fun doing your own work.

A few lines into one particular upbeat song, it became clear that they were covering the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Yes they were. It was a medley, in fact, with highlights from "Men in Black" and "Wild, Wild West" thrown in for good measure. It was a little bit of genius. Here it is: see for yourself.
Later, after some disclosure about playing a love song in a rock club, they launched into a new song (and welcomed suggestions for its title) which silenced the enthusiastic room. Only afterwards was it admitted that this was the first time they had ever played the song for anyone. And therefore, they said, comfort can be taken in knowing that it was the worst that the song will ever be played. Which sure bodes well for the future of the song. And the band, frankly.