Bird & The War Show Review
By Harriet Kaplan
Bird & The War‘s moody and epic ambient indie rock is a fitting musical companion piece for driving on a chilly dark night in the rain or through a windy road with white capped mountains in the background with snow cascading down. The brooding, somber music with a “big sound” is the brainchild of Orange County’s singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Chavez. In the band bio, Chavez attributes it to a sense of “heartache and loss.” Originally, he played in folk band in San Jose, CA and ultimately he left the unit unfortunately losing friends in the process. Perhaps hurt, disappointed and maybe working through his anger, Chavez saw the uncontrollable situation he faced as one he characterized as fighting and going through his own “personal war” to get to the other side. Chavez was determined go forward and decided to perform again under the name “Bird & The War” as a musical rebirth of sorts. A phoenix has rise from the proverbial ashes. This band started out as a folk/Americana project but evolved into the ambient indie rock band it is today with lead guitarist Michael Arias and drummer Gus Flaig rounding out this powerful and talented trio that left a distinctive mark on the music. That incarnation performed a recent show at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, CA showing material the band’s debut self-titled EP released in April. The set list included Bad Hand (unreleased); Lock & Key; Stone Heart; Bone & Flesh; Adobe; Lochs & Lakes and Rattled (unreleased).
Understated in appearance, each band member sat on chairs in a circle playing their respective instruments with passion, intensity and drive focusing solely on the delivery of the songs. Chris Chavez’s aching, emotional and soaring reverb-soaked vocals gave the songs a unique anchor that was heartfelt and earnest in its immediacy to connect on a universal level with the audience. The ringing guitar intonations provided by Michael Arias drove the songs to greater heights, as each number build up sonically from the initial quieter subdued place. Chavez exorcised his demons through the music. It was a thrilling and cathartic experience that shattered the land mines of his fractured psyche going from valleys to peaks creating an exciting and dramatic effect. Gus Flaig’s propulsive drumming offered a solid rhythmic counterpoint to the overall arrangements. He followed the requisite tempo and pace of the songs but he also added his own stylistic imprint to them. Flaig’s drumming gave the numbers additional dynamics, punch and tension. All necessary components to make Bird & The War take flight and climb above the pack. This band stands out with an original sound that grabs your attention fast and makes a lasting impression one can’t forget.
Photos by Sarah Chavez