“You won’t stand still, so why should the world?” New Beard certainly doesn’t stand still, and they don’t want anyone else to at their shows. On Saturday they played the last date of their tour run that we recently previewed at The Paper Box; a relatively new (and possibly the best new) venue in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, right across from the DIY venue Shea Stadium (not the former home of the Mets). If these two venues held a block party, we would have the best of everything on the same street, as far as live shows are concerned. But back to New Beard, who may be one of the most fun and friendly new bands in Brooklyn.
Their latest album, New Beard City, is full of quirky, well-crafted tunes that go from fantastical to heavy rockin, but always come across genuine. New Beard’s live show at The Paper Box was a lot like that, but with the energy turned to 11. They started off with “Blood From a Stone,” an invigorating track about being true to yourself. This set the tone well, as New Beard, as a whole, is a band that makes no pretense or apologies about being what they are – which is incredibly unique. The band is influenced by a wide range of musical styles and different bands, from Deerhoof to Metallica, and it shows. As such, they sound like an amalgamation of a little bit of everything that all the members have absorbed, but they’ve also concocted this musical tonic with just the right levels of eclecticism. As their name might imply, there’s certainly a good helping of rock with metal tinges in their songs, but there are also more tender aspects, in their “tea tree oil” songs, as lead singer Ben Wigler put it…you know, to keep your beard soft.
Listening to the songs carefully on the record will reveal all those subtleties and nuances in sound that may be foreign sounding at first, but gradually turn into much more than simply an acquired taste. The production and songwriting are both highly skillful, but the live show is where the band dynamic and whole vibe really comes across. Everyone plays off of each other, makes faces, and looks like they are doing exactly what they want to be doing the most in the world. Maria Christina Eisen backs Ben up on just about every song, belting out lyrics and then scream-wailing on her sax. Yazan at the other end of the stage looks like he’s making almost no effort at all but still managing to shred on his flying V guitar, as well as belt out backing vocals while doing knee-shaking dance moves. On the tuba, Joe Exley really just goes all the way, cheeks puffed and bell pointed toward the crowd, and Tony Waldman is a drumming ninja. Ben Wigler is the eye of the New Beard storm, rocking his acoustic guitar like he was jamming out some heavy metal licks, and also quite adept at turning a vocal phrase. If you ever wondered what KISS might sound like as half brass band, New Beard is what you’ve been looking for that you didn’t know you were looking for.
In the end, they sound like the most creative and interesting people you may ever meet, and quite endearing too. They’re also headed for some seriously raucous show status, with definite potential for large, dancing crowds. Their last song of the set was the afore-quoted ‘Doom,” which is also their catchiest, most sing-a-long friendly tune. Once word gets out about this band, I predict that will be the encore song fans scream for.
New Beard has another NYC show coming up on September 25th, at Mercury Lounge. Stream their whole album, New Beard City over at Bandcamp, like them on Facebook, and keep up with them on Twitter for friendly beard sparring.