Some bands just sound better live. Maybe its the acoustics, or maybe its just genuine talent showing through the polished final cut, but there’s something about a good live performance that can make me fall in love with a band I previously dismissed for whatever reason.
Enter Bear’s Den. Prior to seeing them open the Forest Hills Stadium show for Mumford & Son’s, I’d only had the faintest idea of their existence. When I learned that they would be opening the show I immediately looked them up on Spotify and iTunes, hoping to at least familiarize myself with their work before I saw them in person. To my consternation I found that they didn’t actually have a record out yet, and that their first EP was due out the day before the show. So I hit up youtube to try and find some live performances. Their most popular video was a live video from an early Gentlemen of the Road Stopover show of the song “Pompeii.” I loved the track, and was impressed by the live performance of it, including the addition of Ross Holmes on fiddle. The track, alas, didn’t make it onto the band’s first EP, though a recorded version is available on youtube.
The band’s first EP Agape is just five songs long but packs an emotional punch. Each song tells a different story, but they all struggle with the same theme; broken relationships that may or may not be mendable. Each song gets progressively darker, with the title track being the most upbeat, relatively speaking. “I have seen all that you’ve seen / and I have been where you’ve been / no, our hands will never be clean / at least we can hold each other” concludes the song “When You Break”, arguably the band’s darkest track. The band consists of just three members; Andrew Davie (lead vocals, guitar), Joey Haynes (vocals, banjo), and Kevin Jones (vocals, drums, guitar). They create a minimalist sound with powerful vocal harmonies that add an extra layer to their songs.
It’s a solid debut EP but the fact remains that Bear’s Den is a band that thrives on live performances. “Playing live is the most important thing to us as a band…The kind of scrutiny a song goes under in the studio can be quite painful at times…[Harris] understood that and was instrumental at getting across that live energy and pushing us to get the most out of the songs” states band member Andrew Davie. The final recorded EP is a little rough around the edges, but that’s just a part of its charm. The band has a DIY attitude, and their hard work has quickly won over fans both inside the industry and outside of it. The band signed with Communion Records (co-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons) and joined Mumford and Sons on many of their Gentlemen of the Road shows in 2013. They have also announced tour dates with another up and coming British band, Daughter, to round out the year. Needless to say, with just one EP under their belt they are clearly a band to watch in the future.