Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, April 9, 2012

Live Review, 4/6/2012: Bowerbirds and Dry the River Break Out the Strings and Harmonies at the Independent

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2012 at 3:30 AM

click to enlarge Phil Moore and Beth Tacular of Bowerbirds - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Phil Moore and Beth Tacular of Bowerbirds

Dry the River
April 6, 2012
The Independent

Better than: A boy's choir performing on Easter Sunday.

The theme of the night was strings. Violins swayed the crowd with sweet, thrilling sounds in both sets. Dry the River's violinist had prominent roles in the band's wholesome harmonies and impressive breakdowns, while Bowerbirds came prepared with a standing bass and violin.

click to enlarge Dry the River at The Independent - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Dry the River at The Independent

Dry the River is essentially a grimy boy's choir with a pinch of rockstar attitude. Five men harmonized a cappella in between head-banging breakdowns.

The breakdowns sounded soft, but the band members' passionate jolts of swaying hair and barefooted stomps made the silky music feel sharp around the edges.

click to enlarge Dry the River at The Independent - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Dry the River at The Independent

Each moment that a bit of angst slipped into the music, there was a sweet tension. The room of hundreds felt united by the music, like we were all in it together -- hoping to hear a soft conclusion.

Once the jolts subsided, the crowd burst into applause as if we had held the band's hand through the breakdown, and then all made it safely to the other side of the song. When members of the audience flocked to buy Dry the River's album, the band announced all its CDs were sold out, but that it had a new one coming out on April 17.

click to enlarge Dry the River - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Dry the River

While Dry the River was bursting with peaceful angst and full-blooded passion, Bowerbirds swept the stage with a familiar style.

If any band could create a soundtrack to North Carolina sunrises and sunsets, Bowerbirds would be that band. Like nature's hum, the band's sleepy tunes were deeply calming.

Tracks from the band's newest album, The Clearing, are upbeat and fun, with bellowing duets between the lead vocalist, Phil Moore, and his girlfriend, Beth Tacular. The infectious jigs are curious in that the album was written during a dark time in the couple's life: They broke up for a year, and one of their beloved dogs broke a hip, all while they were writing the new record.

click to enlarge Bowerbirds at The Independent - ERIN BROWNER
  • Erin Browner
  • Bowerbirds at The Independent

A performance of the playful new song "Hush" earned the crowd's undivided attention when four band members supported Tacular's bubbly vocals and frisky keyboard.

I've seen my fair share bands playing sleepy-time tunes -- but these bands had an especially active way to sing me to sleep, thanks to Dry the River's head-banging and Tacular's accordion playing.

Critic's Notebook

Bedtime tunes: As you might have read in my Two Gallants review, I'm a huge fan of sleepy music. This was another dreamy success full of lullabies that I prefer to listen to under a comforter.

The crowd: As usual, The Independent was filled with thirtysomethings. But the few wide-eyed girls swooning over the headbanging and passionate cries of choir boys while clinging to the front of the stage were just too cute.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, and like us at
  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Erin Browner


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"