A cool breeze was blowing over the South Street Seaport on Friday night, rocking the antique sailboats behind Brooklyn band Bear in Heaven. It was one of several free indie-focused concerts being held this summer on a pier that’s usually a tourist mecca. Think a middle America mall with a nautical theme, Uno pizza and all. When we arrived, I was surprised to hear a band that sounded like YellowFever, who I saw recently as an opener at Voxtrot’s final concert. Turns out, it was YellowFever! They were playing a surprise show after having to cancel on their last Seaport concert. So I enjoyed more of the Austin band’s chilled out minimal rock. After YellowFever, Wisconsin-based Zola Jesus played a gothy, vocal-heavy set. It’s the sort of thing my high school, Warped Tour-loving self would have listened to in my room while writing dark poetry.
Bear in Heaven just astounded me. Their sound was amazing and unlike anything I’d heard before. It’s the kind of music you can lose yourself in. With touches of psychedelia and krautrock, Bear in Heaven delivered a sonically intense performance that I can’t believe was created by only three people. I think at some point the drum player was shaking a maraca, and the lead singer was playing bass guitar and keyboard (some sort of sound board, too?) at the same time. The swaying masts behind the stage added something surreal to their otherworldly set. If you haven’t heard Bear in Heaven (I had only heard a couple of songs before Friday night), definitely check out “Lovesick Teenagers,” “Wholehearted Mess,” and “You Do You,” all from their 2009 release Beast Rest Forth Mouth. Those three videos are all from indoor concert venues, and they don’t really show how their music just expanded over the whole Seaport. I could see some bands getting lost in all that space; but Bear in Heave was as huge as the gleaming skyscrapers behind us.