Concert Wrap – Bowerbirds, Nov. 18 @ Union Theatre

November 19th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

For the final number of their concert on the University of Arkansas campus on Wednesday (Nov. 18), the Bowerbirds played in the stairwell of the Arkansas Union. Seriously.

They had a proper venue. They spent the bulk of the the night in the Union Theatre in that building on an actual stage.

But as the night ended, and the crowd begged for more, something out of the ordinary seemed in order. The band lugged a drum, an accordion and an acoustic guitar — their base instrumentation — down two flights of stairs and had the crowd wind up the staircase around them for a performance of “Bur Oak.”

With the reverberation of the makeshift space, and the voices of the crowd chiming in, it left the 200 some people who attended the show with something to talk about.

Not that they already hadn’t seen a fine show.

Click on the ‘more’ link below to continue reading about the Bowerbird’s recent performance in Fayetteville.

Not-so-clear cell phone photo of the Bowerbirds by KEVIN KINDER, Northwest Arkansas Newspapers

Not-so-clear cell phone photo of the Bowerbirds by KEVIN KINDER, Northwest Arkansas Newspapers

In a room so quiet during the songs that you would have felt loud whispering to your neighbor, the Bowerbirds, a neo-folk trio from North Carolina, played a 70-minute set full of quiet, introspective and sometimes even drowsy songs.

They reminded me most closely of folksters Bon Iver, with acoustic guitar layered over drums, and the Fleet Foxes, with pastoral tunes of wind and animals and vocal harmony.

At their best, the trio was mesmerizing, the kind of band that takes you away with harmony and grounds you with smart melodic constructs.

At their worst, the band’s songs are a little self-important, in the sense that you can almost discern improper motives in the time changes, something like “Hey, we’re slowing down, we’re going to say something profound now!”.

But those moments were rare in a concert that was, by the nature of the venue and the material, a pretty subdued affair.

Until the end, of course.