Seabear and friends

Seabear + Via Tania – The Mercury Lounge – March 25

I may not have attended SXSW this year, but I think I got at least a taste of it this week since a number of the bands swung up to NY to play shows. For my third night in a row of music, I caught an early show at the Mercury Lounge with Via Tania and the delightful Icelandic outfit Seabear.

Via Tania (Photo - Joe Wigdahl)

I had never heard of Via Tania, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into the set, but I was pleasantly surprised. Though it appears that Via Tania is predominately the solo act of one Tania Bowers, for the live version, she was flanked by musicians on stage. She admitted to not having toured in a while, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the performance tonight. It was tight, well-crafted, and seemingly effortless.

Take a listen to the song “Fields”

When I was looking for a picture of Seabear to post here, I found so many sweet ones that I’m tempted to forgo the review and just post photos, but I think I’ll have to settle for a couple of recent ones.

Seabear (Photo - Lilja Birgisdóttir)

Seabear is another one of those sweet Scandinavian bands. They may have been dressed like hipsters, but they are so humble and seem so genuinely happy to be on stage. They also project this air of innocence that I love. One girl in the band (far left in the above photo) wore something resembling a Little House on the Prairie dress – with a couple of modern twists (it didn’t go beneath her knees and she paired it with leggings). Usually a sign of toughness, the tattoos up and down lead singer Sindri Már Sigfússon’s arms (antlers, stars, a hand, and many other indecipherable things) were kind of a funny juxtaposition to his calm demeanor.

After a fight broke out right in front of the stage at Sindri’s solo show (1) during CMJ last year, he seemed surprised by our good behavior last night: You’re very quiet. That’s nice. Sometimes, I’m very quiet, too, so that’s something we both share, he carefully said through a thick Icelandic accent.

Seabear again (Photo - Lilja Birgisdóttir)

For the last song in the set, “Seashell,” there was a built-in sing-a-long. Often, sing-a-longs can flop with a crowd that is too talkative or apathetic, but the small but packed crowd at the Mercury Lounge last night humored the band.

Thank you so much, Sindri said in closing. You made us feel very welcome and because we like you so much, we’ll ask you to sing. You know how to sing, right? [Crowd starts singing as per instruction to try out the part] Well I could listen to that all night. It’s beautiful.

I mean how could you not participate after that, right? We were rewarded by smiles all around, and the spirits were high for “Seashell,” which also contained a lot of clapping parts.

Since the Mercury Lounge had another show following Seabear’s set, there wasn’t much time for a formal encore, but we got at least one song anyway. We have time for an encore, but we’re not going to leave the stage. With that, they launched into “I Sing I Swim,” from their debut album, Ghost that Carried Us Away.

Their latest album, We Built a Fire, came out a couple of weeks ago on Morr Music.

Sindri actually announced every song, so I hobbled together an approximate setlist:

Lion Face Boy
Cat Piano
Singing Arc
Fire Dies Down
I’ll Build You a Fire
Wooden Teeth
Cold Summer
Wolf Boy

I Sing I Swim

(1) Sindri’s excellent solo project is Sin Fang Bous. Highly recommended.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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