Pearl and the Beard at Stickyz

Last night Pearl and the Beard played Stickyz, to a tiny but appreciative audience. (The crowd was, I suspect, diverted down the street, where Justin Townes Earle played the Rev Room.)


Pearl and the Beard is a Brooklyn-based trio, celebrating intimacy, nerd-dom and quirky, downscaled chamber-pop. They wear glasses and clashing patterns and sometimes, a six-armed, rainbow-striped sweater. I think they’re going for irony, but can an unmistakably earnest effort be ironic? I don’t know, but I do know that they’re perfect.

They’re Radiohead, Fleet Foxes (among a slew of other hipster freak-folk revivalists), Florence and the Machine, high school band geeks, conservatory bad-asses and that guitar-strumming camp counselor you had a crush on, all rolled into one. In addition to being well versed in everything from madrigal compositions to southern spirituals, they’re pitch-perfect three-part harmonies, conspiratorial lyrics and body parts (hands, feet, vocal cords) wielded as serious instruments. They’re gentle and dreamy, rollicking and suggestive, and aurally drenching (check out their Daytrotter session).


So last night, in a bar in a city that I’m just beginning to know, I stood dripping the nostalgia of lush New England summers and fiery Brooklyn autumns, my toes rooted in the heavy soil of Mississippi winters. (Other people, I’m sure, melted into different puddles.)

Pearl and the Beard is: Emily Price on cello, Jeremy Styles on guitar and Jocelyn Mackenzie on drums.


Price holds a master’s in cello performance from Carnegie Mellon University. Though the wooden box onstage never changed, she only played the cello part of the time. Other times, she played upright bass or an over-sized fiddle. And sometimes she just soulfully manned a spaceship through a meteor shower.

Mackenzie played a precise snare and tom-tom combo, alongside a kazoo and toy xylophone. Her kit is simple, but her rhythms were snappy and smart. Styles’s guitar parts are folky and pretty and probably, he is the earnest-est of the earnest.

The whole outfit is orchestral, gushy, gorgeous and reaching. And people are getting it. Nearly everyone there bought merch. I managed to snag the very last Killing the Darlings EP (the display copy!), which means that for the remaining two weeks of their tour, no one can buy any records. It’s only after the show that those pitiful folks in other towns will realize how tragic their loss.

More pics and video after the jump.