And I don’t even mind. Elephant Revival’s Bonnie Paine is nothing short of magic. Greek mythology tells of dangerous and beautiful creatures called Sirens who would lure nearby sailors with their enchanting music, only to have them shipwreck tragically on the shores of their islands. A Siren is a symbol of the dangerous yet sacred temptation embodied by beautiful women and song, and if you’ve ever heard Bonnie sing, you would be convinced she is, in fact, one of them. To deliver such beauty on stage is almost a sacrifice; you can see as her silver voice is drawn out from her depths she is near tears for much of the performance, and this was no different on the night of November 9th2013, when an auspicious half moon was waxing in Aquarius, and when 47 years ago to the day John Lennon laid eyes on Yoko Ono for the first time at an art exposition in a drafty corner of London, and when friends and lovers gathered at a very sold-out Boulder Theater just last week to be drawn in by a Siren and to welcome Elephant Revival back home after the recent release of their newest album, These Changing Skies.
I’m always amazed at the way the band works together so ceremoniously. Their breaks are clean and neat after spectral swells of harmony; it’s jolting to see such eloquence being matched by each artist at the same time. The three men (Sage Cook, Daniel Rodriguez, and Dango Rose) pass around their stringed instruments like steaming plates of a home-cooked meal that they are eager to dig into. Perhaps my favorite part about them, though, is how they can make a really simple song sound beautiful. The guitar’s open chords and standard tuning matched with a swift banjo, laden luxuriously with Bridget’s fiddle – the whole thing is about simple eloquent beauty. And, as if their performance wasn’t beautiful enough that night, they employed a gorgeously haunting circus theme complete with a black and white striped backdrop, an acro-yogi, a woman on stilts, and an “elephant”.
The night was as refreshing as rain; Bonnie howling low like the wind, and Sage on the banjo like trees creaking, and Bridget playing the dance of a piece of paper that got torn of your hand and flitted gracefully across the sidewalk. Dango’s fingers across the neck of his bass tapping like raindrops on pavement, Daniel’s wispy and free-flowing presence like a cloud. Our souls feeling wet and full and glistening, and the music so permeating you could catch a cold.
They are truly timeless, and you can know this intuitively just by looking around at the audience. There are youngsters with long dreadlocks and patchwork (they must have left their pitbull in the alley), indie-rock hipsters with old school sneakers and thick-rimmed glasses that gleam, men in pressed suits who stand in the back stirring their Jameson and Ginger, delicate older couples drinking Cabernet, girls in flowing white with hemp purses slung around their chests. The only similarity is that everyone’s eyes are shining and their mouths are agape; like lost sailors at sea we are drawn to the enchanting sound of the Sirens.
To employ one last analogy (how else can you explain such fervency), I see Elephant Revival like a strand of beads, each stone more beautiful than the last. And then there is Miss Bonnie Paine, her voice like the silver thread that strings the whole ensemble together, who stole not only my boyfriends heart but everyone else’s in the crowd too.