A folk-pop trifecta -- Pearl and the Beard, PHOX and Anna Vogelzang -- won over the Majestic Theatre's crowd Friday night with sweet harmonies, cute instruments (kazoo, glockenspiel, melodica) and even cuter melodies.
Local songbird Anna Vogelzang set the show's tone with some pretty little acoustic numbers. In a very "it's a small world after all" twist, Emily Hope Price of Pearl and the Beard joined Vogelzang and revealed that she was Vogelzang's TA in college. Together they sang a couple of songs from Vogelzang's latest album, Canary in a Coal Mine, including the beautifully fragile "Undertow." Later, all three members of Pearl and the Beard accompanied Vogelzang for a harmonious sing-along on "One and Only." It was an appropriate choice: Vogelzang explained that she's getting hitched in a week, and that Pearl and the Beard will perform at the wedding.
Next up was PHOX, Madison's latest buzz band. They just released their debut album, Friendship. It's loaded with folk-pop gems like "Kingfisher," this set's opening tune. PHOX finished their first tour only a day before the show, and it sounds like the road treated them well. Lead vocalist Monica Martin guided the other PHOX five (Matt Holmen, David Roberts, Matt Roberts, Jason Krunnfusz, Cheston Van Huss) through a collection of catchy, upbeat songs and harmony-rich ballads. The crowd shushed at chatterboxes during a hauntingly beautiful closer, "Laura (Oh Girl)."
"I hope you brought your clap machines," announced Jeremy Styles as he and the rest of Pearl and the Beard took the stage. Styles, along with Jocelyn Mackenzie and Emily Hope Price, looked like they walked straight out of a Portlandia sketch about hipster bands, with their matching black horn-rimmed glasses, quirky instruments and of course, a beard (on Styles, that is). You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, though. The trio soon launched into the fun, clap-happy "Douglas Douglass." Within 30 seconds, the floor was shaking from the eager crowd's stomp-along. With striking dynamics, Pearl and the Beard exhibited impressive control over their instruments and shared vocals.
Whether they're performing a delicate, acoustic song like "Swimming" or their rowdy closer "Hot Volcano," Pearl and the Beard harmonize sublimely.