Bear Vs. Shark
Crump Theater, Columbus
Wednesday, July 6
Ferndale, Mich., may be an ordinary small town north of Detroit, but it's the birthplace of Bear Vs. Shark, a band whose sound is all over the map. "I can't really describe our sound," guitarist John Gaviglio said. "I guess it's kinda like if Led Zeppelin and Fugazi had a hyper, brain-damaged child." Bear Vs. Shark
Their second album, Terrorhawk, available on Equal Vision, is a refreshing break from the slick production of emo and radio-metal bands that currently clutter airspace and record store bins. While it rocks in the vein of, say, At The Drive In or the aforementioned Fugazi, parts of the album seem like well-organized noise with frontman Marc Paffi adding the finishing touch, darting between singing and throat-ripping screams.
Though genre-defying music is nothing new, Terrorhawk doesn't try too hard to fit that bill; it comes natural. Especially when you hear the familiar baritone sax of Morphine member Dana Colley, whose work here is as superb as anything he did with his former band. "Our producer [Matt Ellard, of Converge and Motorhead fame] had worked with Morphine and made a call and Dana came in and jammed with us," Gaviglio said.
Another unique quality Bear Vs. Shark exhibits is the lack of defined roles of their guitar and bass players. Members Derek Kiesgen, Mike Muldoon and Gaviglio all switch off during shows and even recording. Singer Paffi has been known to display erratic behavior on stage, especially when playing as an opening band to a cynical crowd that's there to see the headliner. "Marc will jump into the crowd and scream in their faces [to warm them up]," Gaviglio said.
Bear Vs. Shark is a band on that bubble between obscurity and indie-cred status, a best-kept secret of sorts. But Gaviglio recognizes the importance of playing to large crowds. "We played a few dates on the Warped Tour last year and were approached to do [a longer stint] this year, but that whole tour is bullshit. The way they treat the lesser known bands ... " he trailed off.
But one of the more interesting tours the band has seen was opening for Coheed & Cambria on the West Coast. "It was mostly young girls there, which was pretty awkward for us; we're not that kind of band. We used to be a band just for dudes, but now girls like us, too," he said.