One of Boston’s greatest and most under-appreciated bands ever has officially broken up. They deserved the grandeur of indie fame but instead got a well-received album on Monitor and a hardcore local fanbase. Which I guess, in the grand scheme of things, could be a lot worse. But it still seems way unfair.
Big Bear has been one of my favorite bands since I first saw them play at Scenic in NYC in September of ’05 as part of the Monitor / Secretly Canadian Showcase at CMJ. They played right after Tyondai Braxton (who legitimately blew my mind). They were and continue to be one of THE loudest bands I’ve ever seen. I remember being right up front, hearing them for the first time, watching Jordyn tape a pad against her thigh so she could smash a tambourine into pieces without fucking up her leg (too bad), everyone on & off stage rocking the fuck out, and then burping as loud as possible. I couldn’t hear my own fucking burp. In my head, it was just massive Big Bear noise. No burp.
I haven’t seen any band live more times than Big Bear. Not even close. Too many to even begin counting. I’ve seen them go through lineup changes, I’ve seen them play a Weezer cover set, I’ve seen them play acoustic (a serious wtf), I’ve seen them play every permutation with Neptune and Parts & Labor, and I was literally thrown out of their sold out “last show” at Great Scott in ’06 when I tried to sneak in with a wrist band fashioned out of a Vitamin Water label (it ALMOST worked). Seeing them live was an incomparable experience. Every show was just as good as the last. They always fucking brought it, owned it, and killed it, keeping it fresh & ridiculous with hands down the best stage banter out of any band ever.
Big Bear holds the honor of being one of only 3 bands which I own more than one shirt of. They’re the reason I still have pins on my bag. They’ve opened me up to dozens of new bands (the good and the bad) just by sharing a bill with them. I owe more to them for getting me in to metal than anyone else.
They were playing a lot of new songs live for the past year, ones that hadn’t been recorded yet, so as a final farewell, they put together a digital EP, See Out, which was just released by Joyful Noise. It’s much different than their Monitor debut, a more fractured indie pop side, like a weirder and much less charming Deerhoof. It’s only $4, which is the best (and cheapest) Xmas gift you could possibly give yourself this year.
Thankfully, no one in Big Bear is done making music. Joel is still in Beautiful Weekend with Noell Dorsey and is going to be focusing on composing orchestral stuff. Farhad is drumming in Neptune. Jordyn is doing low-key pop with Matt from Ho-Ag as Brutal Love Masters. David is still going to be playing with Farhad & Jordyn in… something. No specific plans yet. And I have no idea about Joanne. Sorry.
So Big Bear is done. For real this time, unlike some of their previous hiatuses. As sad as I am that they’re gone and that they never got the recognition they deserved, I count myself lucky that I got to experience the most impossible to describe band while they were still around. They were the biggest and the beariest. And they will be missed.