A sheet of paper with a quickly scribbled “sold out” was taped to the door at 3rd and Lindsley Tuesday night as Boy & Bear waited backstage to greet the Southern audience with their Australian charm. Packing their set with the old and the new, Boy & Bear gave Nashville an intoxicating experience of music and humanity.
The full house had to have been a welcomed sight for the two opening acts that honored the venue and main attraction with performances that primed the stage for Boy & Bear. Firekid, Dillon Hodges’ recent musical endeavor, began with a well-received set that blended his bluegrass and folk style with drum tracks and pop beats. A song discussing the “Americana dream” shed light upon our cultural phenomenon of aesthetic appeal and desired perceptions, and Dave Hosking, lead singer of Boy & Bear, reiterated the song’s accuracy and ironic truth when the band took the stage. Following this exceptionally memorable act was Steve McKellar of Civil Twilight, and his sweet energy matched the songs perfectly. The South African native was shy to the audience but not to the microphone, and his set was filled with haunting melodies made so by his honest voice.
Finally, the five men of the rock-folk band from Sydney took the stage that was prepped with water, towels, and Yuengling. Without speaking a word to the audience as they assumed the stage, the collective began with “Three Headed Woman,” a recent single from the newest album. “Rabbit Song” and “Lordy May” flowed from the moving opener without pause as the stage lights faded into different colors. Hosking graciously thanked the audience after this uninterrupted chain of songs came to a conclusion, beaming with humility and sincerity. In awe of the sold out status of the show, he thanked Nashville for hosting the band yet again, for they had previously recorded their debut album, Moonfire, at Blackbird Studio back in 2011. Tracks from the sophomore album dominated the next segment of the set. “Harlequin Dream,” the title track from the most current album, was a harmonic change of pace, and Jon Hart, keys, gave the song an enchanting quality, while Killian Gavin’s solo seamlessly layered the electric guitar line upon the organ tones.
Before continuing with other tracks from their most recent record, Harlequin Dream, “Milk and Sticks” flooded the room with Tim Hart, drums, filling the openness of the chords with precision and dedication to rhythmic integrity. This artist transformed the drum set into an entire percussion section that shaded every song and catalyzed Boy & Bear’s performance. Dave Symes, bass, anchored the group and energized the stage, and all five members contributed to vocal harmonies that heightened the listening experience. The chemistry of the group was obvious to any observer, and their lighthearted dispositions allowed the performance to be a shared experience by both the audience and band. After the group jammed on “Part Time Believer,” Gavin joked that he almost immediately regretted trying to do such a thing in a town like Nashville. Hosking agreed and gave creative credit back to the city, and after a good laugh, Boy & Bear followed their tribute to the region with “Southern Sun,” the beloved single from Harlequin Dream. With a happy audience and flawless set, Hosking, along with echoes from the other members, thanked the listeners yet again and informed the audience that an encore performance would not occur, but a couple more songs would. “Golden Jubilee” and the quintessential Boy & Bear track, “Feeding Line,” brought the show to an end, leaving the audience in a state of wonder.
Nashville was lucky to host this group, even if just for a night. Boy & Bear gave the audience a window into their creative spirits and collaboration, and the performance was undeniably incredible; it just made you want to smile and “get up and dance.”