Tonight: Bear in Heaven brings its psychedelic sound to brillobox

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The members of Bear in Heaven arrived Monday in Pittsburgh for tonight's show at brillobox in Lawrenceville. It's a makeup date for the Oct. 28 show that was canceled because of Superstorm Sandy.

So guitarist Adam Wills went on the band's Facebook page and posted: "24 hours off in Pittsburgh What to do?"

They got a few suggestions, but Jon Philpot, who started the group in 2003, wanted to revisit The Mattress Factory on the North Side. The band's newest member, drummer Jason Nazary, had never been there before.

"I've been to Pittsburgh a few times before with other bands, but I've never been to The Mattress Factory," Mr. Nazary said on the cell phone as the trio searched for a parking space. "I'm excited. I really don't know what to expect. I guess we'll be jumping on beds?"

Not quite. In fact, the art at The Mattress Factory is much like the music of Bear in Heaven. It's different, yet familiar. You can let it happen in front of you or you can immerse yourself in it.

Seeing as how bands hate "labels," we'll let Wikipedia describe Bear in Heaven: "The sound of the Brooklyn-based band incorporates influences from psychedelic music, electronic music and krautrock."

"Genre-wise? We don't know," Mr. Philpot said. "We've never known. It's been kind of a problem of ours. Well, not really a problem. But we'll play with other bands and we don't sound like them and they don't sound like us. I don't know what it is or why it is."

The group has produced more than a half-dozen albums, the most recent being "I Love You, It's Cool," which came out last year. It got some good reviews and they've been touring pretty heavy to promote it.

"We've been to Pittsburgh a lot. I like this town. It's a good-looking town, you know?" Mr. Philpot said. "When we're going to do a U.S. tour, we usually start here. It's sort of the first city going west from Brooklyn.

"We tour a lot. It's definitely fun to make records, but touring is fun. We've seen some crazy places. Russia and Australia. Pretty amazing. I don't think we'd have gone to those places if we weren't playing music."

But it can wreak havoc on a band's makeup, changes that Mr. Philpot takes in stride.

"It's just life, man," he said. "It ain't easy when you're touring. And you're not making bazillions of dollars. We have a good time, though. It's part of learning, growing."

The last time Bear in Heaven was in Pittsburgh was a March performance at The Andy Warhol Museum.

They were headed back in late October when the news accounts of Hurricane Sandy bearing down on New York were all over the news.

"We just drove straight through here and got home just before it hit," Mr. Philpot said. "We were fine, though. Adam spent a lot of time out in the Rockaways volunteering. I went out one day, but he was out there every day helping out."

Now, it's a handful of makeup dates and then back to the studio.

"I'm actually really psyched," Mr. Philpot said. "During this tour we've been writing a bunch of stuff. I like our new stuff.

"It's still in the works. We were thinking about trying to play some tonight, but it involves some new instruments and we couldn't work it in."

So those who turn out for tonight's show can expect to hear Bear in Heaven standards.

"We have openings, places where we can freak. And then we have places that are pretty set," Mr. Philpot said. "We give ourselves the opportunity to loosen up, but it's not like it's a free-for-all.

"I think that sometimes that can be taxing on an audience. We used to do that all the time. But I think we were basically punishing the audience. We've tightened it up since then."

Performing with Bear in Heaven is Snowmine. Brillobox is at 4104 Penn Ave. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Check it out!

Get a preview of tonight's event!

Video: "Reflection of You" -- Bear in Heaven

If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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