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The Beths Concert Review: Nothing Fishy Here

Vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter of The Beths, Elizabeth Stokes, on the guitar.
Vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter of The Beths, Elizabeth Stokes, on the guitar. By Courtesy of Lena Tinker
By Lena M. Tinker, Crimson Staff Writer

Sold out for over four months, The Beth’s performance on Feb. 28 at the Sinclair was brilliant. Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, the band is in high demand across North America, touring for their latest album, 2022’s “Expert In A Dying Field.”

Fans were drawn in from the first moments with opener Sidney Gish. Gish’s easy and comedic manner had the crowd laughing, and she teased them leading up to The Beths’ entrance: “There is an excellent set piece that will soon reveal itself to you with the changeover, and I don’t want to do spoilers and say what it is, but it’s the best thing ever.”

It did not take long for the giant fish, prominently featured on the cover of “Expert In A Dying Field,” to appear on the stage in blow-up form, emerging behind guitarist Jonathan Pearce during their opening song “Future Me Hates Me.” Later, the name for the fish was selected from the crowd. Contenders included Trout, Chicken, Barnaby, and the undeniable winner, Sidney Fish, which earned a cheer and a “someone got it, well done!” from Pearce.

Jonathan Pearce of The Beths on the guitar.
Jonathan Pearce of The Beths on the guitar. By Courtesy of Lena Tinker

“Expert In A Dying Field,” is The Beths’ third album. The band feels refreshingly genuine, made up of a collection of people who seem to care deeply about music while making space to have fun and create unique experiences for their fans. Vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter Elizabeth Stokes said of the album in an interview with The Forty-Five, “I want it to feel like a comfortable friend.”

Stokes’s songwriting makes it easy for listeners to find a friend in The Beths’ instantly comforting music. The songs from “Expert In A Dying Field” impressively balance a musically upbeat tone with lyrics that are honest reflections on the hardships that mark daily life — the insecurities and struggles that are felt by every person.

The Beths are described by Carpark Records, the label with whom they released “Experts In A Dying Field,” as continuing their “cerebral indie-rock-meets-power-pop” sound from earlier albums with “an electric shock of new confidence.” The Beths are at home with artists like Alvvays, Frankie Cosmos, and Soccer Mommy. This particular niche of the indie-rock scene is filled with artists who write pensive and often brooding songs, with vocals that feel ethereal. The Beths stand out for their instrumentals, which feel sunny, rather than relying on more somber digital effects.

The show included songs from across the bands’ three albums, including “When You Know You Know” and “Silence Is Golden” from “Expert In A Dying Field,” “I’m Not Getting Excited” from 2020’s “Jump Rope Gazers,” and a fan favorite, “Little Death,” which was their last song of the night from 2018’s “Future Me Hates Me.”

The set was filled with bits from the foursome, one of the highlights being when drummer Tristan Deck revealed “that underneath Ben’s shoes he is wearing socks with individual toes for comfort, stability, and maximum rock.” Bassist Benjamin Sinclair told the audience, “I can wiggle my toes around the whole gig, and I didn’t think anyone would know about it. But, I’m glad that we all know now.”

Sinclair enthusiastically promoted his blog and corresponding Instagram account on stage, where he keeps daily tabs on the food and activities undertaken by the band while on tour. In one of two blog posts about Cambridge, he reflected on what it was like to play at The Sinclair, which he calls his “namesake venue.” He described the experience as being “very good. As you might imagine, lots of things had my name on them. Items, and bits of building. But I didn’t get any special privileges, and that was fine.”

The Beths will continue on their North America tour throughout March, and will move on to tour Europe beginning in May. In late September and early October they will appear on tour with Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service. Great things will undoubtedly follow for this outstanding band. Those who shared an evening with The Beths at the Sinclair as February wound to an end should count themselves lucky.

—Staff writer Lena M. Tinker can be reached at lena.tinker@thecrimson.com.

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