Alabama Shakes’ frontwoman Brittany Howard and her latest side project Bermuda Triangle performed a casual, intimate set at a packed WOW Hall on Saturday night in Eugene. The performance marked the eighth and final show in an eight-day period for the trio, which kicked off its brief West Coast tour in Hollywood, California, on Feb. 3.
Following a hypnotic Afro-soul performance from openers Bells Atlas, Howard took the stage with bandmates Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser just after 9 p.m. The trio was greeted with a rambunctious applause and a healthy dose of hoots and hollers from the crowd. After finishing the band’s opening track “Tear Us Apart” with a bicep flex, Howard addressed the audience. “This is my first time here. This is all of our times here,” she said. “Can you show us what it’s like in Eugene, tonight?”
Shouts of admiration for Howard rang through the hall during even the slightest of silences. One enthusiastic fan even held a sign that read “Brittany” in bold letters. But by no means did Howard’s fame outshine or overcast Mancari and Lafser’s impressive musical talent. Bermuda Triangle’s performance felt like a true collaboration, not a one-woman act.
The trio’s musical ability was on full display — each member took turns on lead vocals and rotated through a host of acoustic guitars, banjos, harmonicas, drum pads and an upright double bass. But Bermuda Triangle’s hallmark talent is its vocal harmonies. On some tracks, Howard’s powerful vocals took charge, with Mancari and Lafser’s twangy harmonics providing a rich supporting vocal layer. Songs such as “Rosie” and “Bermuda Triangle” familiarized the audience with Lafser and Mancari’s twangy timbre.
Despite an impressive musical performance, technical difficulties and lapses in instrumentation kept finding their way into the set. But Howard’s informal and relaxed stage demeanour made those moments, which can often be awkward and embarrassing, an opportunity to share a laugh with the audience.
While humor and humility served as themes for the night, there were also sincere moments of gratitude and reflection. “We started this band as a joke,” Mancari said. “[But] these are the most talented women I know and it’s a joy to be on the stage with each other.”
“We really are real-life best friends,” Howard said towards the end of the performance. “This is our last show and I just want to say: what a beautiful thing we’ve done. We started this band by just drinking rose. We did one show, then we did some more shows, then we were like ‘Let’s go to the West Coast’ and now we’re here.”
After wrapping up its set just after 10 p.m., Bermuda Triangle left the stage and exited the venue through the backstage door. But the absence was short-lived. The trio quickly returned for a one song encore in response to a thundering pulse of clapping and stomping.
“I love this crowd. Fuck yeah!” Mancari said following the group’s final performance. The trio then thanked the crowd and shared a bow.
Follow Zach Price on Twitter: @zach_price24