Bear Hands play intimate show in downtown Buffalo

Waiting Room filled with warm indie vibes over the weekend


Brooklyn-based rockers Bear Hands returned to Buffalo to play an intimate show at the Waiting Room in downtown Buffalo on Friday. The band finished their seven-week tour strong, playing their final show for a crowd of roughly 300 people.

The Spring Fest alums are fresh off the release of their third studio album You’ll Pay For This. They toured with Cage the Elephant last winter before touring on their own to promote the album.

Relations opened for the band, playing for roughly 45 minutes. They were your typical grunge garage band, and a decent act to open up for Bear Hands.

Then the main act came out with beer in hand, looking more comfortable than ever on stage. After 15 minutes of microphone issues they finally got the OK to start their set.

The show started off with the electro-pop opening track “I Won’t Pay.” The first half of the song is slow, but it eventually speeds up into a great punk rock finish.

The crowd was quiet at first, but after the first song they were ready to sing along to some of the band’s most popular songs.

It was clear that more popular radio songs like “Agora” were better-known among the crowd than some of their newer material.

The song about agoraphobia was a crowd favorite. The audience sang every word to the song, almost overpowering the band itself.

Despite the love from the crowd, the band at times was a little off their game. During sections of “Agora” there were missed down beats or unorganized guitar strums that detracted from the overall sound quality of the performance.

The band went on the play songs like “Winner’s Circle” and “Too Young,” which were great filler songs before getting to the songs the crowd really wanted to hear.

“Bone Digger” off Distraction (2014)won the crowd’s hearts, with audience members singing in unity to one of the bands best-known singles.

The funky electro-pop song makes use of the bands multiple Roland electronic percussion pads. During their second album they began to experiment with sampling electric clips, incorporating them into their number one singles.

On their new album almost every song features sampling and electronic influences, proving that the band is in the process of moving away from the traditional rock path and looking for more of a mix of electronic and rock.

Arguably the best-known song of the night was “Giants.” People pumped their fists in rhythm and screamed along, encouraging front man Dylan Rau to jump around on stage and interact with the crowd and band mates very passionately.

“Giants” made it to number eight on Billboard’s Alternative Chart in 2014. Two years later it proved to still be a crowd favorite and will forever be one of the band’s most popular songs.

Of the new songs that were played, “Boss” was on the lighter side of the band’s grungy appearance. The song opens with an acoustic style guitar riff and soft, warm vocals from Rau. With the hook “I’m the b*tch and you’re the boss,” the crowd banged their heads along to the more rock influenced section of the song.

The 12-song set list came to an end with “2AM,” a ballad explaining the band’s opposition to getting older and how times have changed in their transition from life as a young party band to being adults.

A much slower song than others, it was a strong finish to the show. It was soothing after a night filled with punk and electric rock to hear the softer side of the band.

Even though Bear Hands may be getting older, their fan base continues to get younger. There was a good mix of younger fans in high school as well as college students and older adults.

No matter their age, everyone seemed to agree that the band played a great show, hitting major songs off all their albums and jamming out on their final night of touring.

Max Kalnitz is the senior arts editor and can be reached at