100 Shows of 2010 - #5: Seabear/Via Tania/Sóley @ Black Cat, 3/23/10

I'd have to say that I don't get enough Iceland in my life, friends. Sure, I've been on Icelandic soil a couple times, but technically I'm not sure it counts (it was only the airport), and sure, I've seen Sigur Ros live, but that's definitely not enough. So given my Icelandic deficiencies, I was super excited to see Seabear backstage at my bar away from home, the Black Cat. And oh, what a wonderful evening it was. I can now let you in on a little secret. Iceland, my friends, rules.

MINI RECAP: Sóley = Delightful! Via Tania = Not too shabby! Seabear = Absolutely splendid! Overall score: B+

It was a miserable evening outside, but it was a joyful time indoors. Sóley, otherwise known as Seabear member Sóley Stefánsdóttir, got things off to a very, very good start. She's absolutely adorable, for one, so one is naturally inclined to like her. The bonus is that her music is lovely. It's ethereal, whimsical, and absolutely bewitching. The songs are haunting and very pretty. To make her set even more special, she revealed in her somewhat timid way that this was her first US show. Who doesn't love being at someone's first show, eh? All in all, I was so very impressed with Miss Sóley, and hope she'll do very well for herself, both on her own and with Seabear.

Up next was Via Tania, the Chicago ensemble fronted by Tania Bowers, an Australian import. Bowers is in possession of one hell of a voice, rich and robust and capable of holding one's attention. Their set was a total departure from that of Sóley, whereas the latter was subtle and mesmerizing, Via Tania was a bit livelier, and a bigger, more accessible sound. While not a band I would necessarily have sought out on my own, Via Tania was definitely entertaining, and Tania's voice just doesn't quit. I dug their Santogold cover, as well, because the VT treatment was so much different to the Santogold style. Tania's sultry voice gave a new spin to the song "L.E.S. Artistes" for sure. But after a little while, I started getting impatient for Seabear.

I didn't have to wait too long, thankfully, to get my Seabear fix. And I'll go ahead and say it, for the benefit of all you bands, but if you want a glowing review, it helps to wear Fair Isle. No lie. It totally works. Seabear, though, won me over with more than just a cozy sweater, mind you. I was totally in love approximately six seconds into their long set. Their live sound is so warm, so jaunty, so pleasant. It's lovely and pastoral and wonderful to experience. They are absolutely charming. And again, I do believe they said it was their first DC show. And I do so love first times. There were tons of them (being vertically-challanged it can be tricky to get a count when there's so many bodies up on the stage, but I'm pretty sure there were 7 of them) crammed up on the small backstage stage, but they made good use of the limited space. Their set was so enveloping, like a warm bear hug from an old friend. Any band who's singer has a sore throat yet sounds so great you'd never know (until he solicited for cough drops) gets serious bonus points. What a trooper. "We play like a million songs," they joke, "did you notice?" Not only are they great musically, but are endearing from a stage presence perspective as well. I wanted their set to actually be a million songs long, because everything they played was simply magical. They even orchestrated one of the most successful bouts of audience participation I've ever seen with "Seashell," an impressive feat in its own right. The crowd wanted an encore, and an encore we got, including their darling take on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." And like good footballers, the band applauded the crowd as we applauded them. How splendid they are! They're definitely in the ranks of favorite new live bands, that's for damn sure. Seabear is a band you must see live, without question. They'll put a smile on your face, guaranteed.

mp3: Seashell (Seabear from The Ghost That Carried Us Away)


  1. I saw Via Tania at their first show ever in Chicago! I remember it as being awesome and involving baritone ukeleles


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