Monday, April 11, 2011

Lucinda Black Bear @ Union Hall 4/9/11

Last Saturday, Lucinda Black Bear returned home to Brooklyn for a special show before they headed off on the European leg of their tour.

Less folksy and morose than the last time I heard them live, their sound has become more raw and now seems to be fueled by a dark southern gothic twang that I had not noticed before. Perhaps it was the venue – the dimly lit musky basement of Union Hall with its ancient decor – but Lucinda Black Bear’s sound had achieved a new resonance that pierced one’s soul.

Their set began with a misleadingly quiet opening that suddenly exploded with a psychedelic flurry of distortion. Just as suddenly as the crescendo had come, it was replaced with a quiet haunting melody.

This closely orchestrated ebb and flow in energy, sound, and style repeated itself throughout their set to highlight the emotional depth of the lyrics. Like a mournful specter seeking a new companion, lead singer Christian Gibbs would coo fatal lyrics like “take my poison/ here I am” and “all she wanted to be was strangled by starlight.”

To borrow my friend’s apt description, Gibbs sounded like a cross between Willie Nelson and a ghost from the Civil War. This ghostly ambiance was created in large part by the melancholy violin and cello of Gillian Rivers and Chad Hammer respectively.

It was both more haunting and frightful with its Southern Gothic vibe, while also more energetic than ever before, at times resembling a western prairie band at a mid-nineteenth century revival replete with the same twang and folksiness.

Overall a fantastic show that revealed a new aspect of their sound that I had not previously picked up on.

Listen to “Knives” below, but most importantly check out “Medicine Bag,” which is from a few years ago, but captures the energy of the 4/9 show nicely.

Lucinda Black Bear: Knives by Gracie Management


  1. Sophisticated, process driven and poetic lyrics; multi-dimensional musicianship. I'm so moved by Fought The Bear. I think these guys are top drawer. All their songs are as good or better. Intense, never banal or self congratulating.

  2. Some day if there is any justice in this world, Mr. Gibbs will receive the recognition he deserves. Equally prolific AND prodigious. Check out his other band, The Droves', new album "Out of Herself" (produced by Bryce Goggin). It is currently on heavy rotation on my iPod. I can't get over how good it is--the WHOLE album. WHO IS THIS GUY??