Make no mistake about Bermuda Triangle. Yes, Brittany Howard (lead singer and guitarist in Alabama Shakes) is probably the group's best known member, but this is an egalitarian trio of extremely talented women.
Howard, Becca Mancari, and Jesse Lasfer, came to Houston's Heights Theater on Wednesday. As all three members were quick to mention, Bermuda Triangle came about from numerous jam sessions in Nashville, and that shows through in the free wheeling nature of their live shows.
All three trade off a variety of string instruments and vocal harmonies, with every member learning something new for the project. Lasfer picked up the banjo for the first time as part of Bermuda Triangle. Howard looks like a natural on the upright bass, but she too learned to play it recently. Most impressive of the three is Mancari, who programs a drum machine.
None of it feels forced or as if they're just trying something for the sake of it. The sound can be a little too stripped down at points - the drum machine only shows up on a handful of tracks, including single "Rosey," originally a Lasfer solo track - and there were some technical difficulties with Mancari's electric guitar.
Bermuda Triangle has enough talent to overcome these challenges. All three members traded off on the eponymous "Bermuda Triangle," one of those classic tracks where a band writes their own mythology and it actually works. And when these three harmonize, it is the kind of goosebump-inducing moment that makes me happy to do this for a living.
Combine that with the loose nature of their mid-set banter, and there's really no other way to put it: a Bermuda Triangle show is just delightful. The music
isn't all puppy dogs and ice cream. There's a common theme of longing and loss in many of their songs, including closer "Golden," a tender ballad about seeing a former lover blossom without you. They're just so damn tight as a group that it's hard to get bogged down by it though.
Nashville-based Liz Cooper & The Stampede provided support, opening up with a raucous set.
Cooper gets top billing in the band, and she's as compelling a front woman as they come. This three piece is a tight unit on the whole, able to transition seamlessly from poppy singer-songwriter tracks to full on ass-kicking rock n' roll. On closer "Hey Man," a lengthy breakdown bubbled over with chemistry between Cooper and bass player Grant Prettyman. Drummer Ryan Usher damn near stole the show though, playing a variety of riffs and solos that would have stymied lesser players.