Seabear @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
Support: Hudson Wayne
Seabear play a playful and engaging mix of folk/bluegrass/indie pop. Lead by Sindri Már Sigfússon, the expanse and variation in the group's musical style extends also to the number of musicians that make up the band. The seven artists add just as many voices to the sweet ballads and foot-tapping melodies that fly from the stage. For an Icelandic group, they are much more openly influenced by southern Americana than the ambient electronic music that is so quickly associated with Iceland. The bluegrass base of most of the songs gave the mood of the club a playful air, which only intensified once the group loosened up later in the set.
The artists entered the stage at Festsaal Kreuzberg on Thursday night and immediately turned up the energy of the venue with the quick plucking of "Arms." Sigfússon was front and center, wearing a long-sleeve shirt adorned with hockey-players and ski-lifts which looked like it was produced for the 1970 winter Olympics. He stood on stage like a baby animal (yes, perhaps a seabear...), bleary-eyed, just emerging from his mother's womb, bewildered by the immediate expectation of his audience to perform along with the warm and joyous instruments surrounding him. As he goofily peered into the audience, singing sweetly yet absent-mindedly, the others in the band picked up and retained most of the energy and spirit of the evening.
Everyone on the crowded stage contributed on multiple levels to the music: some playing multiple instruments and almost all of them helping to provide the background chorus scattered throughout the songs. The strings, horns, and keys were interwoven with the basic guitar, bass, and drum elements. The tunes floated from backstage like a swing, the peak of the swing's arc consisted of big drums, ripping guitars, and the soaring violin. In the trough of the arc Sigfússon's soft voice mingled tenderly with the plucked violin and melodic piano.
Although the music was never poorly played or performed, the band became more solid and confident as the set progressed. As the music became stronger and more expressive the set ended after playing almost the entire new album. The two most enjoyable songs came in the encore. Claiming they would play a cover song and then another off the new album, the band suddenly slipped into the opening notes of Chris Isaac's "Wicked Games." This undertaking was surprising, but entirely worth it. Despite the shift in musical genre the band pulled it off well, with all the members enjoying themselves and closing the night on an absolute high note.
Written and photographed by Brit-Maren Schjeide
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