Bearhug help celebrate the start of 2013


Bearhug is just one of the bands playing at A Spunk Family Show to celebrate New Year's Day.

Bearhug is just one of the bands playing at A Spunk Family Show to celebrate New Year's Day.

A Spunk Family Show

Tuesday, January 1

Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul

A bear hug is one of two things - a tight, loving embrace from a close friend, or a wrestling move designed to dominate and control your opponent.

But Ryan Phelan, the vocalist and guitarist of the band who has taken on the cuddle as their moniker, says it means neither of these things to its five members - it was just a name suggested when they were struggling to figure out what to call themselves.

"Names are just the most irrelevant thing in the world and there's so much importance put on them. All the bands you love, you never really sit down and think about their name, unless it's a really great name like Sonic Youth or something," he says.

"Most band names are just for the sake of putting something on the album and you can't get a steady following if you keep changing your name."

The indie band has had a good year following the release of their first full-length record Bill, Dance, Shiner. Critics have compared their sound to something like Pavement or Broken Social Scene and two of their songs have made it to the long list of the Triple J Hottest 100.

Phelan doesn't think they'll secure one of the coveted final spots (he lists The Rubens, Frank Ocean and Tame Impala as his predictions for the final 20), but that may be because he is his own critic.

He has decided he dislikes much of their early material, not because the songs are especially bad, but because they have grown as artists since they released their first EP almost three years ago.

"I think it's natural to start disliking your old stuff pretty much immediately," he says.

"You always try to keep improving. It seems to be more about refinement, though, than any drastic changes, making things better and getting rid of any bad things you used to do."

Bearhug is just one of the acts playing as part of A Spunk Family Show, a mini music festival put together by Spunk! Records and Music Farmers to celebrate the start of 2013. The other artists performing are Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Collarbones, R L Jones, Emma Russack and Wollongong musos Shining Bird.

Phelan says playing a show with several other bands is always a good experience because the performance is more relaxed.

"There's no pressure on you, you play and if some people like it, they like it, you don't really need to be the centrepoint, which is good."

Bearhug will be on stage in the middle of the day and Phelan is relieved they are neither first or last, as these come with some added challenges - revving up the crowd for a great day or finishing the night off with a bang.

A Spunk Family Show runs from 3pm to 8pm.