It’s a low-key, chilled out, contemplative folk show. You’re minding your own business when all of a sudden, the most energetic dance-infused rock you’ve ever heard comes out of the band on stage. It’s surprising, but you can’t help but dance along with everyone else. You have just witnessed the creation of WhoaBear.
“We had been playing americana and folk music for three years,” says Beau Dodson, lead vocalist/synth player. “It put a lid on most of our energy and we all wanted to just break out this crazy live show, so at the intermission, when we noticed nobody really cared about what we were playing we changed it up and tore the place apart and within minutes the whole place lit up and turned into this wild party. That backseat grope-fest birthed what you hear today.”
Beau and Adam Penkert (drums), along with Andrew Dillard who contributed keys and synth on WhoaBear’s debut, were part of the accompanying band for David Sickmen’s (of The Hackensaw Boys) solo project, The Bellweather States. They enjoyed the gig, but all you have to do is listen to WhoaBear’s self-titled debut, out June 11, to hear that there was some dance mayhem ready to bust out at any moment.
With influences as wide ranging as Primus, The New Deal and Dr. Dre, there’s no telling where WhoaBear could go. With beats and vocals that are in the hip-hop tradition and synth and lyrics that owe more to the indie electronic world, WhoaBear creates danceable tracks with an aura of heady darkness. But just because there’s a bit of darkness, doesn’t mean this band doesn’t have fun. Even their name is derived from a response to Dodson’s overly amorous dog. The track, “See Coppa,” a rap anthem of rebellion and youth, uses thirties gangsta cliches in the uber-catchy chorus, while “Rock Em’ UP” just dares you not to dance.
Dodson, who writes all the lyrics, strikes the perfect balance between funny and meaningful, hard-hitting and dreamy in WhoaBear’s songs. “Love is an important thing to me and I use it as a basis for most songs,” he says. “Even if the song avoids the word completely I want the listener to dig out the theme in their own fashion, like a choose your adventure book.” The lyrics paired with unanticipated musical choices create a set of tracks that are surprising, hooky and beg multiple listens.
Because WhoaBear was born live, that energy is tangible even in their recordings. “We’re like the best B-movie you’ll ever see,” says Penkert of their shows, “We’re unpredictable, raucous, loud, raw and loaded with energy.” Recorded in their practice space, which is below the corporate office of a Chick-fil-a, WhoaBear is a handshake and an invitation to a world of humor, unexpected love songs and creative energy.
-Kelly Bennett, Green Light Go Publicity