Sea of Bees
It might be I am neither English nor American but I don’t understand the name.
Which is good, because odd band names attract my curiosity and I end up listening to their music.
Now, Sea Of Bees has been on my radar for a while, they are (she is?) a Line of Best Fit favourite since early days, I have several friends totally taken by their music and the dreamy melody and sharp voice I listened from few online samples was definitely interesting. Probably not challenged enough to invest a travel to London midweek for her show, but definitely to ride my scooter to the Haymakers which is, basically, down the road from where I live.
This proper Sea of Bees show is one of the few headlined gig they did. Sea of Bees has spent the month of January touring and opening for the Smoke Fairies which, to me, is a plus not to be ignored considering the devotion I have for Jessica and Katherine.
The Haymakers, told you few times already, is a nice Cambridge pub, with a cosy atmosphere. Never too crowded (apart from a Carl Barat show, which you may understand why). It suits this kind of acoustic atmosphere. There are chances to chat with the band, to drink a beer without spilling it on the floor (apart from that Carl Barat gig), it is never too hot and sweaty (apart from the same Carl Barat concert, I may have already said this.)
I am not going into a monography of Sea of Bees, a band that still doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry and the internet official sites don’t reveal much more.
The debut album, Songs for The Ravens, has been critically acclaimed in the entire blogosphere and it starts being noticed by the national press which is what can be read as a good sign.
New music nowadays isn’t brought to us anymore by NME or Rolling Stone, too distracted by struggling labels pushing their new signing and in search of new trends to get aficinoados readers to keep the prints circulation high enough to survive.
New music comes from the passionate people curating music websites there the best discoveries are made, from there are fished up from the big music magazines.
Sea of Bees is one of those, Yuck are another and a plethora of new artists emerging from the virtual to the real are on their way.
I wouldn’t even call Sea of Bees a band. In the end it is a music project by Julie Ann Bee (this gave me a hint that the name may have nothing to do with bees!), a Californian girl from Sacramento who write songs, sings and plays many instruments.
Tonight Jules is on stage together with another girl a couple of guitars (one acoustic one electric) and she sings.
She always wear a black hat, I only saw pictures of her with that hat on, which I don’t know how it is called but it is not important.
She is funny, very funny. I like her “head in the clouds”, daydreaming attitude which permeates the humour. She is entertaining between songs, basically for not being able to say anything mindful, which is the great bit.
It works, the consequence is that you get stuck into the music. Music and words which are brilliant.
Talking about the music, it may be helpful to cite Jason Lytle and Colin Meloy among her fans.
As an approach you may think to someone as Bon Iver or John Grant , with whom she is soon going to tour UK, for the deeply personal emotions her songs are infused. This is not music for the lover of technicality, complicate arrangements or harmonic constructions.
This is music that was born in someone’s heart and left free to reach all the hearts out there open to let it inside.
It works for the same reason she entertains people between songs. She is part of the audience, her show is a performance which shouldn’t even have the spatial separation between stage and the hall. Jules lyrics are direct, immediate, speak simple things which anyone can be sympathetic with. Everyday life stories, love, of course, and all its implications. Discovering life in all its facets.
So is the music, layer of instruments on record create simple melodies and delicate harmonies but the overall sensation is simplicity and it emerges from the live show.
Her voice doesn’t go through octaves, it spans through different ages. From sounding childish to adult depending the story she is about to telling.
Sea of Bees was a warm surprise on a cold winter night. Definitely worth to get active and go out if she is coming close to you.
Close ups isn’t my favourite music photography style.
I am up for wideangles, images that try to catch the live act in its entirety, musicians interaction, energy.
I mostly shoot around the 24 50mm range as a lens length and very rarely I mount a telephoto at gigs.
Sometimes I like challenging myself and this was one of those perfect occasion to do that. As all pubs the Haymakers doesn’t have a sexy, neat, clean stage, the background is messy with cables and devices which are not used by the band.
It is not nice to include in a picture something unrelated to the scene, as I described in an old post about the problems with shooting support bands.
Jules plays guitar but she is so expressive that I though some portraits would have worked and gave it a try.
This is not the kind of images a journal would select to go with a live review, because they’re black and white (due to the usual red light only situation), because they can be emotionally too strong. Sometime even the artist doesn’t like to be caught while screaming, with eyes closed or mouth wide open. I think there is much more intimacy on such photos than to a classic portrait with a nice smile partially hidden behind the mic.
I also liked the interaction between the two girls and, once found the right angle, playing around with depth of field and selective focusing created some interesting compositions.
Remember, when shooting two people interacting it is important to be ready for the moment that they look at each other, if you catch that instant when eyes interact, you can be sure the eyes of the viewer of your image aren’t going to leave the photo in a split second but keep going from one face to the other staying on it for much longer.