The first time keyboardist Ben Einstein from Bear Lincoln told me the band was planning to change their name, all I could think was: Why? Your music is so spectacularly catchy and exciting and addictive I wouldn’t care if you called yourselves, without a whiff of irony, The Gun-Loving Donald Trump Fan Club (a horrible idea, but possibly a fabulous T-shirt). Unless the band decided a new musical moniker was necessary to fit a new musical identity. Maybe Bear Lincoln is too whimsical or frivolous to match their future sound, one that requires solemnity for solemn times and solitary contemplation to fully understand.
With the release of their latest single “So,” the group proves they’re still the life of the party and are best enjoyed at full volume in the middle of a packed dance floor. Bear Lincoln is out, Van Goat is in and, intentionally or not, the band has traded one famous person plus animal pun name for another famous person plus animal pun name. “So” is as fun and captivating as the first time they blew me away with “The News” years ago, an introduction that virtually solidified my status as unabashed fan enthused enough to accept any change they throw at me with little more than a cliche reference to Shakespeare. After all, what’s in a name? That which we call Van Goat by any other name would rock just as hard.
Check out the latest incarnation of the soul-stirrers at the Starline in Oakland live this Friday night.
Van Goat, Johnny Soultrain, Failure Machine
Starline Social Club
July 15, 2015
8pm, $8 (21+)