Fear! Laugh!

The waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy izzzzzz a trap! The waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy izzzzzz ahhhhhhhhhhhhh trap!

That’s the unholy expression that Big Bear frontwoman Jordyn Bonds had last night when she hit the stage precisely at 11:30 at the MidEastUp—all stretched jaw muscles and werewolf howl. Damn, that girl can wail! During one breakdown, Bonds fingered the tambourine with the nervous energy of a kid chewing on hoodie strings while the rest of her bandmates walloped and slammed in place. Joel Bond did most of the talking, in a teal "C is for Crunk" T-shirt, about sunny things like the Esplanade and summer. Then he’d quiet and the band would explode into a neck-thrashing seizure and the world would become scary and beautiful and loud.

This is what they really look like...

What we like about Big Bear is that they’re an enigma. Indie rockers aren’t supposed to like metal or hardcore, but here’s this arty-tastemaker-traveling band with a frontwoman who shrieks like she’s just been sentenced to hell and guitars that deafen like descending helicopters. They’re screamy without being screamo, grinding without really being grind, hardcore without the flying elbows. Even more puzzling is their packaging: their May release has no liner notes or band identifications, it’s just all electric yellow and green illustration with 12 tracks named after numbers. In person, they catch you off-guard too: at first glance, Joel Bond’s patchy ‘fro and bassist David Altman seem as if they belong onstage noodling on acoustics beside this guy. But then you actually see them play and it's a jarring juxtaposition—not holy-shit-Rick-Astley-is-a-carrot-topped-British-wanker-not-a-younger-Barry-White jarring, but jarring nonetheless. What we’re trying to say is: we’re not sure we really get Big Bear and we love them for it.

This response wasn’t unanimous. At one point, a tall guy in track-suit jacket turned to his two earplugged girl companions and loudly whispered, “It sounds like she’s saying,”—this next part came out like a special-needs student— ‘Duuuuuuuuuuuuh! Duhhhhhhh!’” (No, man, get it straight: it's “Feeeeeeeeeeeear! Laaaaaaaugh!”) Then, after the show was over, we overheard another naysayer grumbling some shit about all she did was scream. Fortunately, his friend set him straight: “You try doing that for 45 minutes and see how you feel.”

Big Bear, "Track Three" (MP3 via band site)
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