Bear Hands and Gothic Tropic at the Music Box on September 28th, 2016


Ambient red and blue light along with a steady bass chime from Music Box when you approach its opaque glass threshold. Entering, you’re initiated into a sacred society defended by large muscled men with ropes ensuring you listen to the music.

Not sure how to dress for “trendy,” as the venue suggested, I wore a blank abstraction of my personality and was pleased to find the same in all the mellow music lovers encompassing me. It’s as if both Bear Hands and Gothic Tropic exploded and dispersed seeds of punk that sprouted into a beautiful menagerie of not giving a bother.


This indoor operation included sweet lamps that showered enough dark light to find ourselves lost in the sweet chords strung by Gothic Tropic.  We floated through a river of nostalgia and soul through tunnels of old music our parents played and pleaded for us to worship as they do. Gothic Tropic masterfully retains the essence of our generation’s attitude while maintaining an austere respect for the manifestation of said attitude through previous musical generations. Their music is an unquenchable pyre in a snowstorm, beating at the walls around it and taking you in its embrace when you let yourself fall.


Watching Gothic Tropic perform, they just look cool: like the kids you always wanted to hang out with in high school but you never had a stereotypical high school moment to bridge the gap between each other’s universes. Bear hands on the other…hand, looked more like the guys you would see in your garage. If Gothic Tropic screamed L.A., Bear Hands whispered San Diego. Their charisma stretched off stage to pull us into an atmosphere that infected us with spores of relentless energy.


Stuck to Dlyan Rau’s voice like a nervous child stuck to their parent at Disneyland, we’re excited to explore the amusement of the sounds surrounding but the grip is so tight it pulls us through until each attraction, which could allot a day’s worth or more of fun each, becomes a flood that flashes through you while you float on his voice. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the song, 2AM, which the band performed while the audience actively acted it out.


Before we even considered an encore, Bear hands thanked the crowd and departed; our screams for an encore met by a roadie packing up equipment. The briefness of the show contributed to its intimacy, as if they were performing an impromptu garage gig after being prodded; now everyone needed to go home. I look forward to seeing Bear hands grab the world with both paws while Gothic Tropic burns it down. I hope to return to the sonic playground of Music Box sometime very soon.


USD Radio Editor:

John Barnum

Photos by:

Christina Duncan