by Bill Pearis
"Man it's weird playing new songs," Jon Philpot admitted to a beyond-packed Union Pool last night. "But once you go and download that leaked record you're gonna be all, 'oh I like that one.'"
Billed under the pseudonym Adventure Hippies, this badly-kept "secret show" was Bear in Heaven's first in NYC since finishing their third album, I Love You, It's Cool, which is still a month from release but may have made its way to the internet the day before. If the crowd, many friends of the band, had heard it I don't think it had time to sink in. The new songs still felt fresh and foreign, if still distinctly Bear in Heaven.
And Bear in Heaven definitely have a sound, and watching them play last night with waves of roto-toms and giant synth pads washing over us, it struck me what that is: the Miami Vice soundtrack (Jan Hammer, Phil Collins, Yello, Glen Frey, etc) condensed into one band, albeit one that also loves Yes and late '80s/early '90s techno. Which is a really strange combination, but Bear in Heaven make it work, due in part to excellent musicianship and that they clearly love playing. All three members (singer Philpot, bassist/guitarist Adam Wills and drummer Joe Stickney) let the O Face slip when they're in the moment, which, in their case, is endearing.
The band sounded up to speed with the new material even if the audience wasn't. I Love You, It's Cool has more of an ear to the dance floor than Beast Rest Forth Mouth, and the techno-leaning "World of Freakout" and likely-second-single "Cool Light" really stood out, as did "The Reflection of You," which is the only song off the album we were really familiar with. Bear in Heaven threw us a couple old bones too, "You Do You" and "Lovesick Teenagers" which Philpot joked "that's classic Adventure Hippies there, going way back!"
Bear in Heaven will begin playing under their own name starting Saturday in Hamden, CT, as they make their way to Austin for SXSW, the start of an extensive North American tour that has them playing through March and April, winding up back in NYC for shows at Bowery Ballroom on May 8 and Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 9.
All Bear in Heaven tour dates are below, as is the zoom-crazy, potentially nausea-inducing video for "The Reflection of You" which was directed by John Lee of PFFR/Wonder Showzen/Delocated/Muckafurgason...
Bear in Heaven - "The Reflection of You"
Bear in Heaven - 2012 Tour Dates
Bear in Heaven -- 2012 Tour Dates
3/01/12 - Union Pool - Brooklyn, NY
3/03/12 - The Space - Hamden, CT
3/09/12 - Voyeur - Philadelphia, PA
3/12/12 - Club DeVille Tumbler Party - Austin, TX
3/12/12 - Speakeasy - Austin, TX
3/15/12 - The Mohawk - Austin, TX
3/16/12 - Urban Outfitters - Austin, TX
3/28/12 - Andy Warhol Museum - Pittsburgh, PA *
3/29/12 - The Bishop - Bloomington, IN *#
3/30/12 - The Basement - Columbus, OH *#
3/31/12 - MOTR Pub - Cincinnati, OH *#
4/01/12 - The Luminary Center for the Arts - St. Louis, MO *#
4/04/12 - Casbah - San Diego, CA * ^
4/05/12 - The Echo - Los Angeles, CA * ^
4/08/12 - The Independent - San Francisco, CA * ^
4/12/12 - Mississippi Studios - Portland, OR * ^
4/13/12 - The Crocodile - Seattle, WA * ^
4/14/12 - The Biltmore Cabaret - Vancouver, BC * ^
4/17/12 - 7th Street Entry - Minneapolis, MN * ^
4/18/12 - Schubas - Chicago, IL * ^
4/20/12 - Zanzabar - Louisville, KY * ^
4/21/12 - Exit/In - Nashville, TN * ^
4/22/12 - Hi-Tone Cafe - Memphis, TN * ^
4/24/12 - The Parish - Austin, TX * ^
4/25/12 - Fitzgerald's - Houston, TX * ^
4/26/12 - The Bottletree - Birmingham, AL * ^
4/27/12 - The Earl - Atlanta, GA * ^
4/28/12 - Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC * ^
4/29/12 - Kings Barcade - Raleigh, NC * ^
5/01/12 - Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC * ^
5/02/12 - First Unitarian Church - Philadelphia, PA * ^
5/03/12 - Brighton Music Hall - Allston, MA * ^
5/04/12 - La Sala Rossa - Montreal, QC* ^
5/05/12 - The Garrison - Toronto, ON * ^
5/06/12 - The Haunt - Ithaca, NY * ^
5/08/12 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY * ^
5/09/12 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY * ^