I just got home from tonight's fantastic Bowerbirds / Megafaun show and it's fair to say that North Carolina breeds some damn fine folk bands these days. I was new to both bands, but I can tell you I'll be listening plenty more as this year goes on.
What the two bands have in common is what I like the most about each - rich harmonies, a calm acoustic approach and a sense of how to build spare and simple songs that suck your attention like a vacuum. And I don't think I've ever seen a show with every person in two bands sang - impressive. It was also a rare show in Club Congress' banquet room (an airplane delay pushed the start time back a couple hours, and 80s dance night in the club held priority).
I only caught the last three songs from Megafaun (I rushed as fast as I could from my softball game) but they were incredible. Completely unamplified, the trio had the room completely hushed. Former bandmates of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, Megafaun closed with the title song from their new album Gather, Form & Fly and then a cover of Dylan and the Band, "Ain't No More Cane," which had me going straight for the Basement Tapes when I got home.
Bowerbirds is another woodsy band, with singer Phil Moore on a nylon-string guitar, Beth Tacular moving between keyboards and accordion, Mark Paulson on drums and violin and Brad Cook (on loan from Megafaun) on bass and drums. All four singing at once is a great sound.
They sound at home in the outdoors, even like they're trying to convey a specific sense of the outdoors through their music. But even while leaning toward some folk conventions, Bowerbirds have their own quirks. There's a light touch on the accordion, the upright bass is bowed as often as not, and Moore seems to like playing his guitar so it makes some real noise.
It was a night both musically rich and quiet, a mix that few bands pull off as well as Megafaun and Bowerbirds.
Bowerbirds - Northern Lights
Megafaun - The Fade