10/16/2014-The Royale

It’s not often Boston gets a heat wave this late in the year, but when Boy & Bear‘s opening act, Run River North, graced the stage, their breezy California style was reminiscent of balmy June afternoons. Warm violin tones wound around complex drumbeats and blended into a cascading array of sounds that were simultaneously soothing and invigorating.

Through it all, lead vocalist Alex Hwang wandered the stage barefoot, strumming his acoustic guitar and serenading the crowd with piercingly accurate lines. “Growing old, feels like giving up your soul,” he crooned under nostalgic blue lights. “I’ve got my life to love, and I’m here to take what’s mine.”

It was music made for casual late night bonfires with friends, but Run River North made it feel perfectly at home onstage among the chandeliers. Their camaraderie and genuine delight in their craft brought a smile to everyone’s face. “This is the part of the night where I start to look like Steve Aoiki,” Alex joked as he shook out his ponytail.

While few were able to sing along with the opener’s songs, heads and feet kept time throughout the show. A loud cheer arose as Run River North bid everyone farewell and strolled offstage beaming brightly.

Boy and Bear strolled onstage with a relaxed confidence to an eager and vocal crowd. They rolled right into “Bridges,” showcasing swinging rhythms and their trademark folk-rock sound. They had remarkable cohesion as a band, and played not as individuals but as a natural unit. Driving basslines melded with dancing guitars as lead singer Dave Hosking’s yearning tones lulled the crowd into a reverie.

While they lacked the youthful exuberance of their opener, their experience and skill was evident. Sunshine-infused melodies made for a thoroughly enjoyable, if not dynamic set. Fancy lights and upbeat dance music, however, was not what this crowd was here for. Boy and Bear played to their audience, alternating between upbeat, jam-worthy tunes and relaxed, swaying songs. Flannel-clad students and middle-aged couples bounced together in cheerful contentment while Dave swung around every inch of the stage, visiting fans with outstretched hands before winding back around.

Boy and Bear’s laid-back demeanor made everyone in the crowd feel like old friends, and it was no wonder their fans had such a love for them. “You guys are all so amazing, keep doing what you do,” a middle aged lady shouted during “Southern Sun,” and although the majority of the crowd was both pleasant and respectful throughout the entirety of the show, they clearly shared her sentiment.

Simple and Sweet: Run River North and Boy & Bear
Pros
  • Skillful musicians
  • Played fan favorites
  • Opener was a pleasant surprise
Cons
  • Lacking energy at times
  • Set too long
7.2Overall Score

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