Back in April when I first saw Long Bead—the dream pop project of New Jersey based musician Leslie Bear—opening for Japanese Breakfast, I described their music as “shimmering and blissful in nature,” something that “you might play when you want to curl up next to a window on a rainy day.” I didn’t grow up in the suburbs, but her music helped me imagine a world in which I did.
Since then, Bear released her sophomore album Means to Me, which retained the intimacy and wistfulness of 2015’s Sleepwalker, but also carried with it a more introspective sense of anxiety and unrest. The reverb on the guitars often grew slightly hazier, Bear’s voice more yearning and airy.
Opening for Lomelda at Great Scott, Long Beard delivered a short and sweet set. It was just Bear and another guitarist on stage, delivering simple and stripped down versions of songs from Means to Me. They began with album opener “Countless”, a song about growing increasingly distant from others—“still hoping you would talk to me / through the colder months of fall / but you never called / you never called”—before transitioning into “Getting By.” “Sweetheart,” the album’s lead single, came next. I had been listening to the song all summer long, and without drums to accompany it, the song transformed into a delicate slow-burner. Bear’s voice sounded more haunting than ever, and the gorgeous gravity of the song was allowed to fully stand.
Other highlights from her set included the graceful and delicate “Monarch,” “Hates the Party” (the only track she played from Sleepwalker that night), and the title track “Means to Me,” on which Bear’s voice swelled to it’s most emotive point. Throughout, the crowd gently swayed from side to side—even if they hadn’t heard of Long Beard before tonight, Bear was definitely leaving an impression on them. Afterwards, I even noticed an audience member tell Bear that they had been listening to her music for a long time. Long Beard is undeniably a project that any self-proclaimed dream pop enthusiast should be keeping their eyes on.
It was cold and rainy when I made the hour-long trek from Somerville to Allston that night. My finals were just days away, and I even had a paper due just hours later. I was stressed and looking for a reprieve, however temporary, from my circumstances. Long Beard’s set was just what I was looking for: however melancholic her music is, it was still undeniably warm. Her set felt like feeling the fibers of your blanket wrap themselves around you after a particularly hard day, just as you begin to doze off—above all else, it was comforting and oddly familiar. It felt like home.