Pearl and the Beard @ Drake Underground

. : : May 10th, 2012 : : .

I’ve long admired Wesley Verhoeve‘s business model for his New York City-based record label, Family Records. One of my favourite practices is a process called cross-pollination. As a fan of the label’s Wakey!Wakey!, I purchased some of their older, hard-to-get (and now sold out, out of production) albums from their website.

Along with instantaneous download to the album while waiting for the postman to do his duty was a link to a digital mix CD, showcasing a song or two of each of the label’s top talents. If I remember correctly, the first song on that mix CD was Pearl And The Beard‘s Voice In My Throat.

I don’t remember if I ever got past that song, simply because I kept playing it on repeat. It wasn’t long before I’d ordered that album, too. Cross-pollination attempt: successful.

It’s a simple concept of acceptable losses that more multimedia companies need to follow: give away a great track for free to introduce the band to the listener and entice them to seek out more. Using existing customers from other faucets of your product base is a great way to turn listeners into fans.

Fans of record labels? I guess that’s a novel concept these days…But I digress.

Since that day, I’ve been waiting for Pearl and the Beard to bring their live performance north of the border. There’s a breadth of live performances online, including a fun medley of Will Smith hits. The band clearly loves performing, and their enthusiasm seeps through every pore in every performance. So I was disappointed when they announced a Toronto show in the opening slot (ugh) at the Phoenix Nightclub (ugh) in April. I couldn’t justify the venue or cover charge for an opening slot.

I was informed of another date through SongKick, but barely being a month later, I was dubious as to its authenticity. Paired with the information that the show was to be held at the Drake Underground, probably the only venue in the city of properly mixing the band’s famously wonderful three-part harmonies, it was a dull knife twisted into my heart, indeed.

When the show’s legitimacy was verified, I admit was a bit confused as to the prompt return, but overjoyed to be able to rectify missing them previously.

After an excruciatingly long day at the office, still learning the ropes of my new job, I rushed down to The Drake Hotel and grabbed my usual spot right up front, set up my gear, and got ready to tape.

In what’s an increasingly unusual turn of events, there was no troublesome road bumps in the process. The subway got me there only ten minutes after the door opened. I remembered to bring extra batteries. All my equipment was present, accounted for, and working without sign of failure. There was no drama to be had. It was a simple, easy, and enjoyable taping excursion.

It helped that Pearl and the Beard put on one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. The band performed with spastic energy, pinpoint precision, spot-on harmonies, and playful between song banter. About three-fifths of the way through the evening, the band started to break down the divide between stage and audience: at first, performing un-mic’ed at the lip of the stage, and finally entering the crowd and encircling the audience for a couple of tunes.

The bulk of the fourteen song performance was culled from the band’s latest disc, Killing The Darlings, but also included a couple of cuts from their first effort, God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson and another couple of covers.

At just over an hour, the show never veered into tediousness or saccharine — a risk that folk bands often run into, especially when there’s an emphasis on boy-girl harmonies, and minimal stage performers (Pearl and the Beard is only three-members strong, in spite of what the strength of their sound might otherwise indicate).

The recording turned out wonderfully — at least, for the songs the band staid on stage for. I had some trouble getting close enough to pick up the band when they infiltrated the audience, and had to use a combination of on-the-fly volume adjustments and post-production tomfoolery to make it anything resembling audible during these moments. However, as great a tape as this is, it’s no substitution for the real thing. The band is on tour right now, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you make every effort to get out and see this wonderful band.

Thanks Wesley, for sharing this great band with me. And thanks to Pearl and the Beard for sharing their music with our fair city.

01. [introduction]
02. Devil’s Head DOwn
03. Sweetness
04. [banter]
05. Prodigal Daughter
06. 40k
07. Reverend
08. [banter]
09. The Lament of Coronado Brown
10. [banter]
11. Swimming
12. [banter]
13. [new song]
14. [banter]
15. Vessel
16. [banter]
17. Lovin’s For Fools [Sarak Siskind]
18. Douglas Douglass
19. [banter]
20. Hot Volcano
21. [encore]
22. [banter]
23. Oh, Death
24. [banter]
25. Apple [Lady Lamb The Beekeeper]

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[ Request FLAC or MP3 Download ]

40k (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Thanks to Pearl and the Beard and everyone at the beautiful Drake Hotel, with special mention to sound engineer John for another victory.

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