London-based Bear’s Den consists of trio Andrew Davie (vocals, guitar), Joey Haynes (banjo, vocal), and Kevin Jones (vocals, drums). They released their debut album, Islands, earlier this year on October 20 via Communion Records to much critical acclaim. It was only after finding their identity on the road that the band decided to focus their attention on studio recordings. That sense of value on their development as a live band shines through on their album, and most definitely in their performance from last night.
Upon walking into the very crowded back room of The Earl, Dan Mangan was on stage being variously accompanied by different members of Bear’s Den as he was without his full band for what he called “the naked tour.” A perfect opener for Bear’s Den, and not just because they basically played with him, but because they both evoke that same feeling of being told a private story that only you are privy to hear.
The versatility within Bear’s Den continued into their own set with Jones frequently switching between the drums and the bass, often playing the two at the same time. Jones even traded places with Haynes to play the guitar during one song. The band as a whole performed each song with a perfect blend of post-modern folk harmonies that weaved stories onto the stage. I have seen quite a few shows at The Earl in my short time on this earth and I can honestly say that I have never seen that room so singularly focused on the stage like that before. It was a vibe that was almost eery, but in the best way possible.
The highlight of the show was the encore, with the band coming out in the middle of the crowd, unplugged and uninhibited. They played “Bad Blood,” a deeply emotional track that makes a genuine statement about the harshness that can often come with a bad breakup. Much like the rest of the show, not a single person in that room could take their attention away from the band, and rightfully so.