There’s something about the freak folk subgenre that inspires people to drink better beer, and that’s never a bad thing. The mellow crowd last night (Aug. 29) at Schubas in Chicago was mostly content to sip Stella Artois or Goose Island brews and bask in the formidable storytelling of Raleigh, NC’s Bowerbirds. Chief songwriter Phil Moore weaved fantastical tales over an acoustic guitar and a hi-hat/tambourine contraption, while the supporting cast of Beth Tacular and Marc Paulson shifted easily between a marching band bass drum, violin, and accordion. Standout tunes included critics’ favorite “In Our Talons” and the rolling sonics of “The Ticonderoga,” both featured on the band’s debut LP Hymns for a Dark Horse. With the interesting instrumentation, plaintive male-female vocal harmonies and varying arrangements, Moore’s songs took on a rambling dimension that would be just as at home in an Eastern European gypsy encampment as they’d be on some rogue, restless pirate ship.
We asked: The male bowerbird makes up for his drab plumage by decorating his home with crazy things, like insect skeletons and brightly colored flowers, to attract a mate. What do you wear that sets you apart when you’re out on the prowl?